Henderson returns home during rare off week

OTTAWA — Canadian Brooke Henderson returned home Wednesday to recharge after her first LPGA Tour victory of the season and help promote this summer’s CP Women’s Open near her hometown.

Her recent putting woes in the past, it was a confident Henderson who attended a media day at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club, the host facility for the Aug. 24-27 national open.

Henderson’s short game was in form last week as she captured the Meijer LPGA Classic with a two-shot win. She followed that up Monday by sinking the winning putt for her team at a charity event with pros from the LPGA, PGA and Champions tours.

Not a bad stretch for the 19-year-old star from Smiths Falls, Ont.

“To be able to come home and celebrate with family and friends in Ottawa … it was so much fun,” Henderson said. “It’s been that extra boost I needed, especially with a long stretch on the schedule coming up.

“This has definitely been the highlight of my year, this week.”

Henderson led all LPGA Tour players with 31 tournament appearances. She has been a little more selective this season in her second full year on tour.

Instead of squeezing in another golf event, Henderson can enjoy the comforts of home this week as she works in some media and charity appearances. It also allows her some breathing room before heading to the Chicago area as the defending champion at next week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

In addition, the U.S. Women’s Open is fast approaching in mid-July and the Women’s British Open is set for early August. Henderson said she’s determined to stay mentally and physically sharp during this critical part of the season.

“Major championships are very tough mentally,” she said. “To have three so close together you have to give yourself some rest time … but physically I feel like my game is in a great place. Hopefully I can keep that up and with a good mentality I can come away with some great finishes.”

The Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club, which bestowed an honorary membership to Henderson and her sister Brittany last year, last hosted the Canadian Women’s Open in 2008.

Henderson’s hometown is a 45-minute drive from the course and she still has vivid memories of attending the Open as a youngster to cheer on the world’s best. She had a glove and ball signed by Morgan Pressel that week in 2008 and said the impact that had on her is something she’ll try to share with kids who attend this year.

However, the extra commitments and hometown pressure — Henderson is also sponsored by tournament host Canadian Pacific Railway — is not lost on her.

“It’s the No. 1 event on my bucket list,” she said, adding she treats the Open as her sixth major. “But I think it’s the perfect fit this year. I’m going to enjoy it as much as I can. It will be a difficult week for me, like every other LPGA Tour player, but I’m really excited for the opportunity.”

Henderson and defending champion and world No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand lead the field of early commitments to the tournament. Three-time champion Lydia Ko of New Zealand and eight other past champions will also be in the field along with Katherine Kirk of Australia, who took the 2008 title.

Four other Canadians have already been confirmed for the US$2.25-million tournament. They include Hamilton’s Alena Sharp, Calgary’s Jennifer Ha, Maude-Aimee LeBlanc of Sherbrooke, Que., and Charlottetown’s Lorie Kane.

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