VANCOUVER – Brooke Henderson can breathe again.
The Canadian, whose responsibility as the queen of the CPKC Women’s Open is over for another year, ended her week at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club with a bang. She wasn’t the winner. But her Sunday effort meant plenty as she looks to end her season strong.
Henderson finished tied for 13th, her sixth top-15 finish of the season. She shot a 4-under 68, tied for her low round of the week.
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“This was overall a great week. I didn’t play my best, but the fans out here were amazing. I feel really satisfied today,” Henderson said. “(Now) I get to take a deep breath now and let it out and basically start preparing for next year (in Calgary).”
Megan Khang broke through for her maiden LPGA Tour title, winning in a dramatic playoff over former world No.1 Jin Young Ko. Khang, who bogeyed the par-3 17th, bounced back with a tight approach on the 72nd hole and rolled in the birdie to tie Ko. Ko hit her drive into the trees in the first playoff hole and Khang just needed a par to win.
“I know my game is kind of trending and it’s kind of matured over the past few years, and so I kind of was more so like it’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of time,” Khang said. “You know, just happened to be at the CPKC Women’s Open. You know, this course suited my game very well and I’m just pumped to finally get the first one.”
Henderson – who is good friends with Khang and grew up playing junior golf with her – was 5-under for her first nine holes Sunday, including an eagle from just 10 feet on the par-5 7th. She backed that up with birdies on Nos. 8 and 9.
Although she gave two shots back on the back nine with bogeys on Nos. 12 and 13, she added a birdie on the par-4 16th and holed a slippery par-saver on 18.
“Today it was really important to me to try to have a really good round, try to play a little bit more freely, and try to make some birdies,” Henderson said.
Henderson had her best day off the tee on Sunday and hit the most greens in regulation for the week in the finale, too. All week Henderson had been preaching how important ball striking would be and that was the obvious key for her last round.
“I’m really excited to have the round I did today, especially the front nine. That was a lot of fun. Felt like it gave the fans something to be really excited about, which I’m always trying to do, so that felt really nice,” Henderson said.
Henderson has eight events left in her 2023 campaign and said she was happy to have grinded out a solid result even without her best stuff this week.
“I was able to grind it out when I was struggling. Then today I was able to kind of ride a wave of momentum. 5-under through nine holes is a lot of fun,” Henderson said with a knowing smile. “So even though it wasn’t my best (result), there were times that I was doing the right things, and I feel like I learned a lot in the times I was kind of struggling a little bit.”
Henderson admitted this season she hasn’t had her usual level of consistency. She broke out of the gates with an impressive win at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions, the first event of the season. She’s stuck on just two top-10 finishes for the year, however.
Henderson said when things start to slip it’s easy to panic, something she said she has done this year. While she’s repeatedly said that she feels she’s trending in the right direction, a round like Sunday where she got off to such a fast start is proof positive that her hard work is working.
“I feel like any time I can be back in the final groups on the weekend and ready to hoist my 14th-win trophy,” Henderson said. “So that’s the goal. Just keep working and try to stick to the process.”
Khang, the 2023 CPKC Women’s Open champion, knows all about sticking to the process. And finally, after eight years of trying, she can call herself an LPGA Tour winner.
“It’s tough to win out here. Eight years is a long time,” Khang said. “It’s great to get the first.”
The LPGA Tour heads to Portland next week – a tournament Henderson has won twice in her career – while next year’s CPKC Women’s Open will be played at first-time host venue Earl Grey Golf Club, which has, according to Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum, the “greatest” advanced ticket sales in the history of the tournament.