Canadian golf star to play NZ Women’s Open
Canadian teenage golf sensation Brooke Henderson is the first international LPGA Tour star to confirm her place in the field for the New Zealand Women’s Open in Auckland.
The current US PGA women’s champion will join Kiwi superstar Lydia Ko to contest the first LPGA event in New Zealand, to be staged at Windross Farm Golf Course in south Auckland from September 28-October 1.
Henderson, 19, is about 15th on the world rankings after making a spectacular start to her professional career, including beating Ko in a playoff in the PGA Championship.
The 2014 Canadian Amateur champion gained membership to the LPGA after a Monday-qualifying win at the Portland Open in 2015 — at that stage the third youngest winner in LPGA history. She went on to win the women’s PGA Championship last year and successfully defend her Portland Open crown.
“I am super excited to go to New Zealand golf,’’ Henderson said.
“I have always wanted to go. I have heard so much about the culture and the landscape there. Lydia is from there and we have become friends these last few years and so I am excited to go and check out where she is from.”
New Zealand Women’s Open tournament director Michael Goldstein said the early confirmation of Henderson was great news for the tournament.
“We want to bring some of the world’s best women’s golfers to New Zealand and Brooke is most definitely one of the stars of the LPGA Tour,” Goldstein said.
“She is to Canadian golf what Lydia Ko is to New Zealand. She is a young and exciting player who has already proved she can beat the best in the world. To confirm a reigning major champion is an exciting addition to the tournament and we look forward to welcoming Brooke to Auckland.”
Henderson won three times on the Canadian Tour while still an amateur before moving to the professional ranks aged 17, winning a Symetra Tour event in her first professionalstart before a sponsor invitation led to a tie for fifth at the US Open in 2015.
Her victory in the Portland Open in 2015 earned promotion to the LPGA where she has been a commanding performer over the last 18 months, climbing at one point to No 2in the world.
Henderson said the influence of Ko, currently the world’s No 3 ranked player after 85 straight weeks at the top of the world rankings, plays a significant part in the Canadian’s career.
“Lydia really is amazing and such a nice person as well. I look up to her and I think we both have fed off each other a little bit. I am always chasing her and her accomplishments have helped me chase after my goals as well.”
Family is a big part of golf life for Henderson with sister Brittany as her caddy while her father Dave remains her coach.
“To have my sister caddy and travel with me — we are together 24 hours, seven days a week — it is so cool. She is my best friend, she is my caddy and she looks after hotel accommodations and things like that. I owe a lot to her to have her by my side all the time,” Henderson said.
“My mum and my dad have sacrificed so much for my sister and I to be in the position that we are, to be able to travel the world and be on the LPGA Tour.
“Mum doesn’t play golf but she is our number one cheerleader and dad is our coach and has been since I was three years old. I wouldn’t be in the position I am without him. We share so much in common and we love to be around each other.”
The organisers of the New Zealand Open, sponsored by McKayson, said they were thrilled to have two stars confirmed this early for the tournament and will name further sponsors and players in the coming weeks.
Hospitality packages for the open are now on sale with three options to choose from. Also a limited number of four-day season passes are available at $99 plus a booking fee. Single day passes are available at $39 for Thursday and Friday and $49 per day for Saturday and Sunday, both plus a booking fee.