Average winning age on LPGA Tour down to 21
Lydia Ko did not win the US PGA Championship but for the winner Brooke Henderson it was a Lydia Ko-type win.
The win saw Henderson become the second youngest woman to win a golf major at the age of 18 years, nine months and two days.
That was about four months older than Ko when she won the Evian Championship in France last year. At that time Ko was aged 18 years, four months and 20 days.
Henderson had already beaten one of Ko’s greatest records prior to the US PGA Championship.
At the age of 14, Henderson won on the Canadian Women’s Tour to become the youngest winner of a professional golf event. In winning a 36-hole event near Montreal, she was two days younger than Ko when she won the New South Wales Open in Australia in 2012.
It was perhaps fitting that Ko and Henderson fought out the US PGA at the Sahalee Country Club in Washington. The pair finished tied on six under par at the conclusion of the four rounds of regular play and they headed off to the 18th tee for a sudden-death playoff.
Henderson continued her sublime form of the tournament to hit her second shot to about three feet from the hole.
Ko could only make par and Henderson holed her birdie putt for victory and first prize of $US525,000. Second was worth $US321,000.
Henderson had already won a car with a hole-in-one in the first round of the tournament. She gave the car to her older sister and caddie Brittany.
In the final round Henderson holed a 90-foot momentum-changing eagle putt on the 11th hole.
She then sank a 40-footer for birdie on the 17th, and a 12-foot par putt on the final green.
The success of the younger brigade on the LPGA Tour has been amazing. The average winning age on the tour has become 21. A decade ago it was about 29.
Henderson is only the second Canadian to win a women’s major championship, following Sandra Post, who was 20 when she beat Kathy Whitworth, the defending champion, at the 1968 LPGA Championship. Post, too, won in a playoff.
Post sent good wishes to Henderson before the tournament from her golf academy near Toronto. The only Canadian victory that might supersede Henderson’s victory came at the 2003 Masters when left-hander Mike Weir won on the first hole of a playoff. Henderson was aged five then.
“Yeah, it will be a big story in Canada,” Henderson said.
“The last couple of days the support from Canada has been really incredible. Walking down the fairway, they were yelling my name. But last time they were just yelling Go Canada. And that was kind of a surreal feeling. I can’t really put words to it. But I’d like to say that I am the Canadian face to women’s golf. And I’d like to say I’m a good athlete for Canada.”