REGINA, Saskatchewan (AP) — Brooke Henderson’s adoring home fans chanted her name and sang “O Canada.” Her father raced onto the 18th green to shower her and sister/caddie Brittany with champagne.
Delivering in front of a huge gallery at chilly and rainy Wascana Country Club, Henderson had a lot to celebrate after becoming the first Canadian to win the country’s national championship in 45 years. She closed with a 7-under 65 for a four-stroke victory Sunday in the CP Women’s Open.
“This was like the first time ever that I’ve played my absolute best in front of the hometown crowd and on home soil,” Henderson said. “It’s just a great learning experience, and it has a really happy ending.”
The 20-year-old from Smiths Falls, Ontario, finished in style on the par-4 18th, crushing a drive and hitting a 69-yard approach to 3 feet to set up a birdie. When the putt fell, Henderson raised her arms and hugged Brittany as father Dave ran onto the green and doused them with bubbly.
“Ten minutes from when I hit my second shot in on 18 to when I made that putt and when the celebrations all happened, those are the things that I’ll remember forever,” Henderson said. “To hit it to 3 feet like that and to know that I finally did it, to hear the crowd chant my name, sing ‘O Canada,’ to make that putt was awesome.”
Jocelyne Bourassa is the only other Canadian to win the national championship, accomplishing the feat in 1973 at Montreal Municipal in the inaugural La Canadienne — the event that became the major du Maurier Classic, then the current non-major in 2001.
“Winning this event, there’s tons of history,” Henderson said. “I was happy that I was able to break that long stretch without a Canadian winning on the LPGA Tour, and just to look at this trophy and read some of the names on it, it’s really incredible to be able to know that my name is going to be added there.”
Henderson earned $337,500 for her second victory of the season and seventh of her LPGA Tour career, one short of Sandra Post’s record for Canadians.
“Truly amazing, dream come true,” Henderson said. “The crowds were incredible all week. Walking to the first tee on Thursday, I didn’t think there was going to be that many people, and the crowd just seemed to grow bigger and bigger every single day, even every minute. Today was incredible. To have their support and then to play as well as I did and to hoist this trophy, I’m just so excited.”
Henderson finished at 21-under 267.
Angel Yin was second after a 68. Jennifer Song (67) was six back at 15 under.
“It’s great for golf in Canada, women’s golf, and it’s great for her, too,” Yin said about Henderson. “People shouting her name left to right since the first hole, like since 9 in the morning. I bet you she feels pressure.”
Henderson opened with rounds of 66, 66 and 70 to take a one-stroke lead over Yin and Nasa Hataoka into the final round. The Canadian played the front nine in 2 under, making four birdies and two bogeys. With steady rain falling as she made the he turn, she birdied Nos. 12-15 and 18 in a bogey-free back nine.
“I feel like my game is in a really good spot right now,” Henderson said. “I just hit the ball exactly where you needed to be, and I got some breaks and I made some putts and I was able to stay near the top of the leaderboard all four days. And to finish the way I did, with five birdies on the back nine, is really cool.”
Henderson won the LOTTE Championship in Hawaii in April. The 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA winner also won the New Zealand Women’s Open late last season.
Minjee Lee (68), Amy Yang (68), Su Oh and Austin Ernst tied for fourth at 14 under. Hataoka had a 72 to finish at 14 under with three-time champion Lydia Ko (69), top-ranked defending champion Sung Hyun Park (71), Anna Nordqvist (68) and Maria Torres (68).