Brooke Henderson owns LPGA Oahu event for second straight year

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Brooke Henderson owns LPGA Oahu event for second straight year

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Brooke Henderson owns LPGA Oahu event for second straight year

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Brooke Henderson’s tee shot on the drivable par-4 11th ricocheted off a rake, avoiding a greenside bunker to set up her third birdie of the final round.

Even though plenty of heavy hitters were poised to give Henderson a run, the Canadian superstar owned Oahu for a second straight year.

Her only weakness in Hawaii – the hula dance.

Henderson’s triumph at the Lotte Championship on Saturday at Ko Olina Golf Club marked her eighth career title, tying the record for most victories on the LPGA or PGA Tour by a Canadian, joining Sandra Post, Mike Weir and George Knudson.

SCORES: Lotte Championship

“It’s just been surreal the last few years,” said Henderson of her fast track to the record books.

Post phoned in during the Golf Channel telecast to talk about Henderson. She noted that when they spoke recently at the ANA Inspiration, Henderson seemed more comfortable with where she is in her career, more talkative and sure of herself.

“(Her career) is going to be much better than mine by the time she gets finished,” Post predicted.

The 21-year-old Henderson began the day tied for the lead with Nelly Korda but pulled away for a four-stroke victory thanks to a closing 2-under 70. Henderson hit driver off the deck on the back nine, even with a comfortable cushion, keeping the gas pedal down in signature fashion.

And when it looked like Henderson might give one away, she consistently wrapped up par, as she did from off the green on the par-3 16th.

“Last year put me into great position,” said Henderson of tying Post’s record, “and coming back this year it’s been on the back of my mind every week that I tee it up.

“Just really happy that I have finally done it. Looking forward to overtaking it now.”

Henderson came to the final hole with a three-shot cushion but knew better than to relax.

“That hole is really hard,” she said. “I’m always a little bit scared teeing off there. But I just tried to take a couple deep breaths. We tried to talk through the first shot because it’s really easy to run into the water there off the tee shot because it’s so downwind. So I had to go with the hybrid and put it really in perfect condition.

“I think I got a little bit lucky on the second shot, so I am really grateful for. And then just to be able to two-putt took a lot of pressure off. With that hole it’s never really over until the ball is in the hole. Just tried to stay focused right until the last putt fell.”

Ariya Jutanugarn (73), Minjee Lee (74), Eun-Hee Ji (73) and Korda (77) were among the chasers who failed to make a significant push in the island winds. Korda hit two in the water on the final hole to post a quadruple-bogey eight and drop to eighth. Jutanguran doubled the 72nd hole as well.

Ji, who managed to par the 18th, finished alone in second.

“I mean, it was a tough day,” said Korda, “but I ended really poorly and I’m pretty disappointed in that.”

Henderson’s latest victory came in her 100th start as an LPGA member, having claimed multiple titles in each of the past three seasons. This marked her first victory of 2019 and the second time she has successfully defended a title. She also won the 2015 and 2016 Cambia Portland Classic.

Asked by Golf Channel reporter Jerry Foltz if she had worked on her hula dance in the past year, Henderson smiled.

“I have not,” she said. “It will be just as bad as last year.”

Unfortunately, coverage ended before the viewers at home could see for themselves.


 

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