After winning the Amundi Evian Championship, Brooke Henderson teed off at one of the finest links golf courses in the world, visited a few Scottish castles and celebrated her second career major triumph.
Now the holiday is over and it’s time to get back to work at another major, the AIG Women’s Open.
The Canadian, who won twice on the LPGA Tour in a six-week stretch, decided to skip last week’s Women’s Scottish Open in favour of recharging, mentally and physically — although she did get in a few rounds at the highly ranked Carnoustie Golf Links, host of last year’s Women’s Open, while also playing tourist.
The Women’s Open is the only major in which Henderson has never recorded a top-10 result, but she’s got momentum on her side.
“Links golf is very different and definitely a big challenge for me, coming from courses that were nothing like this growing up,” Henderson said. “But every year I get a little bit more comfortable with the different shots and the different style of play that you need to use.”
Henderson sits second in the LPGA’s season-long Race to the CME Globe and is now ranked fifth in the world. She’s earned just over $2 million (U.S.) this season.
She is also tied for second in the Rolex Annika Major Award race for the best major championship record of the season, 24 points behind Minjee Lee.
Henderson finished tied for 13th a year ago at the Women’s Open, the fifth and final major on the tour schedule. Anna Nordqvist of Sweden is the defending champion.
Getting the major event to Muirfield is an achievement for the women’s game. The club only voted to allow female members in 2017 — about 275 years after the club was founded. Twelve women were admitted in 2019.
Muirfield last hosted the men’s British Open in 2013, when Phil Mickelson won. The Royal & Ancient dropped the club from the Open Championship rotation before it began to admit female members.
The purse has also increased this year, up $1 million to $6.8 million.
“To be playing this year … it really means a lot to all of us,” Henderson said. “It’s just proof that the women’s game is continuing to grow. The purse sizes are increasing. We’re on network TV more and we’re playing these better venues.”
Henderson has already called Muirfield her “favourite links” course among those she’s ever played, and knows it will be a tough test with high winds in the forecast.
She said she’ll be leaning on her sister and caddy Brittany Henderson — who is more analytical in her decision-making — more than usual starting Thursday.
“I’m very much just a feel player. So coming in, I like to see the golf course and feel my way around. I feel like we make a really good team that way,” Henderson said. “The two methods kind of fit really well together.”
And while Henderson hasn’t had the same success at the Women’s Open as at the other majors — she did make a hole-in-one in 2018 — she’s never come into a Women’s Open after winning the previous major on the schedule. That could make a difference this time around.
“It did take six years, but it was definitely worth the wait,” Henderson said of capturing the Evian Championship. “I’d love to win another major championship. Maybe end of this week.”
Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sherbrooke, Que., fresh off her third top-10 result of the season at the Women’s Scottish Open, is the other Canadian in the field.
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