AURORA, Ont.– When Brooke Henderson walked up the 18th fairway, the applause from the gallery at Magna Golf Club was enthusiastic and appreciative. She walked side by side with the 2019 CP Women’s Open champion Jin Young Ko, waving to the crowd with happiness. Claiming the CP Women’s Open victory was not meant to be on Sunday for the Canadian. No golfer in the field was going to leapfrog the World No. 1 Jin Young Ko, who now has a streak of 106 consecutive holes without a bogey.
Despite falling short of history, the Henderson hoopla reached peak energy on the amphitheater of the 18th hole. The patrons at Magna Golf Club and fans of the sport across Canada have fully embraced the 21-year-old. Even in defeat, Henderson still exudes an undeniable optimism and enthusiasm that is hard not to support.
“It was an incredible week,” said Henderson after her final round 69. “I feel like I handled it well. Just to be able to play well in front of all these people, to make their weekend a little bit better, it’s all I really want.”
Missed Opportunities Stymied Brooke Henderson in Final Round
Brooke Henderson entered Sunday’s final round two strokes back of the eventual champion Jin Young Ko. But missed birdie chances early in the round led to inexorable progress for the rest of the day. On the first and sixth holes, Henderson had makeable putts that were less than 10 feet. Both times, she tugged the ball left and missed them.
On a golf course that was yielding impeccable scoring conditions, not taking advantage of those early opportunities hindered Henderson’s chances to win. Unlike on Saturday, when she flipped the switch on the 8th hole and never looked back, the Canadian could not garner momentum on the back 9. While her ball-striking was superior (12 of 14 fairways hit), she required 30 putts in her final round, a facet that needed to be stellar if she wanted to make a run at the lead.
“I had close birdie looks and was rubbing edges. It just didn’t happen today,” stated Henderson.
No one could stop the steadiness and effective shots from Jin Young Ko, who secured her fourth victory on the LPGA Tour. Her final round 64 tied the Magna Golf Club course record and she went 72 holes without a bogey, the first since Inbee Park to complete this feat at the Canadian Open.
The round could have gone awry for the two-time major champion on the 9th hole when she hit her second shot into the forest. But a clutch approach shot to the green, over the bunkers, allowed her to secure the up and down for par. A moment Ko believes transitioned the course of her round for the better.
“I hit the fourth shot 63 meters from the rough and got par,” stated Ko. “It was a huge par.”
Henderson Looks Forward; Learns Valuable Lessons
Brooke Henderson needed to be special on Sunday to be the first Canadian to successfully defend the CP Women’s Open. The 29 she shot on the Back 9 in the third round was not replicated on championship Sunday.
Despite falling short of expectations, Henderson never gave up. She sank a lengthy birdie putt on the par-4 15th, showcasing her battling spirit. While the consolation prize of securing the Sandra Post Low Canadian Award doesn’t match a championship, Henderson could not have been more proud for Ko, who she admires as a friend.
“As her friend and competitor, you have to celebrate how great she played in front of these amazing crowds,” said Henderson.
This week brought extra responsibilities and distractions for Brooke Henderson, given her place in history as last year’s champion. Every challenge, every moment in the Canadian’s title defense exemplified class, grace and sportsmanship.
It is why Brooke Henderson is the sweetheart of Canadian golf. Her career is far from being over; it is just getting started. There will be more Canadian Women’s Open chances for Henderson to capture her national championship.
With crowds reaching record-breaking levels at Magna Golf Club, it demonstrates the effect Brooke Henderson has when she steps on a golf course on her home soil. A fever that will not be going away any time soon.