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Henderson buoyed by fan support at CPKC Women’s Open as up-and-down season continues

The fans at the CPKC Women’s Open don’t care, Brooke Henderson is still their favourite.

The fans at the CPKC Women’s Open don’t care, Brooke Henderson is still their favourite.

Henderson, from Smiths Falls, Ont., was greeted with cheers or chants at every hole around Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club on Sunday as she put together a 4-under 68 round to improve her overall score at the Canadian women’s championship to 2 under.

Disappointed with her performance at the only LPGA Tour event in Canada, Henderson said she was buoyed by the chants of “Let’s go Brooke!” or the impromptu renditions of “O Canada!” that followed her around the course.

“It’s phenomenal. Just the love, support, all the people that came out to watch,” said a smiling Henderson. “They didn’t really care what I was shooting, which was also really nice, they were just happy to be out here watching.”

Henderson finished the Women’s Open 75-68-75-68, an up-and-down scorecard that was a microcosm of her roller-coaster year. She was the low Canadian in Vancouver, tying for 13th at 2 under.

She started the LPGA Tour season with a victory at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions on Jan. 19 and has had three top-20 finishes since. That includes a tie for 15th at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship on June 22, a 12th-place finish at the U.S Women’s Open on July 6 and second at The Amundi Evian Championship on July 27.

But she missed the cut at the other three events in July and August that led up to this week in Vancouver.

“I think overall when things start to slip a little bit you can panic, and I feel like I’ve done that a little bit this year,” said Henderson, who entered the week 11th in the Race to CME Globe standings, but is projected to move up to eighth on the LPGA Tour rankings on Monday.

“I’m trending in the right direction — I’ve been saying that a lot, too, — but I really am.”

Hamilton’s Alena Sharp, the other Canadian who made the cut, had her best round of the tournament on Sunday. She shot a 4-under 68 in her fourth round to finish tied for 36th at 3 over.

“I’ve still got to keep learning as a veteran, and today I went out and just wanted to have fun,” said Sharp, who competed in the national championship for the 18th time. “Yesterday I walked off and I know I didn’t have a lot of fun. I let the golf course get to me.”

Sharp has spent most of her season on the Epson Tour and sits ninth on the second-tier circuit’s money list. Sharp said it’s encouraging that she can still compete with the best the LPGA Tour has to offer as she targets a return to the highest level of women’s golf next season.

“I know I still have it to play out here,” said the 42-year-old Sharp. “A sloppy two rounds, but two really good rounds on a really tough golf course.

“Looking forward to a week off and then five weeks in a row to hopefully get my LPGA Tour card.”

Henderson and Sharp were two of the 15 Canadians entered in the Women’s Open, with 10 of those players still amateurs. Although most of them missed the cut, Golf Canada chief sport officer Kevin Blue said it was an opportunity for the next generation of Canadian players to challenge themselves.

“Being uncomfortable is good,” said Blue on Wednesday. “Ask somebody trying to win a tournament down the stretch. They’re not comfortable. The whole point is to get uncomfortable in golf.

“Our players are definitely going to experience the good parts of that in the next couple of days.”

Calgary’s Earl Grey Golf Club will host the July 22-28 CPKC Women’s Open next year.