Brooke Henderson captures 10th career LPGA title at LA Open
23-year-old from Smiths Falls, Ont., earns 1st win since 2019
Canada's Brooke Henderson rallied to win the HUGEL Air Premia LA Open on Saturday for her 10th LPGA Tour title, chipping in for birdie on the par-3 12th in an early back-nine burst and getting up-and-down for par on the last.
Four strokes behind leader Jessica Korda and three back of top-ranked Jin Young Ko entering the sunny, breezy day at Wilshire Country Club, the native of Smiths Falls, Ont., closed with her second straight 4-under 67 for a one-stroke victory over Korda.
Henderson has more titles at the top level of golf than any Canadian.
"I definitely am a firm believer when you're in the winner's circle you're getting a lot of breaks and it's sort of meant to be," Henderson said. "I was making a lot of birdies, and I think probably the biggest break was 12, that chip-in. You know, those breaks can be really small or they can be really big."
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The 23-year-old Henderson birdied the par-4 11th to take the lead at 15 under, hitting a 144-yard shot to 3 feet of the back, right pin. She holed out from 70 feet from right and below the green on 12, and made a 6-foot birdie putt on the short par-4 14th.
"Just tried to make solid contact and landed on my spot, and to have it go in was definitely a big bonus," Henderson said about the 12th. "It was going pretty hard. So it was a huge momentum change and a huge point in my round today."
She bogeyed the par-4 17th to cut her lead to two. On the par-3 18th with Korda in position for a short birdie putt, Henderson chipped inside 2 feet for par after her 8-iron shot rolled off the edge of the green and into a low collection area.
"Definitely very clutch," Henderson said. "That is not where I wanted that tee shot to be, so to be able to get up-and-down there for the win was really cool, especially just after Jessica made such a great shot and put a lot of pressure on me to make par."
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The sixth-ranked Henderson won for the first time since the Meijer LPGA Classic in June 2019. She finished at 16-under 268 to break the event record of 14 under set by Minjee Lee in 2019.
Afterward, Henderson also made her feelings known about her home province's decision to shut down golf courses as part of a stay-at-home order when she was asked about the Ontario government's move.
"I think golf is a great way to be outdoors and get some exercise, and it's really unfortunate that they're shut down right now," Henderson said.
"Hopefully they'll open up sooner than later. It's a great way to ... get exercise, fresh air, and also have a little bit of social by doing it pretty safely."
Henderson said she is not going to Asia for the next two LPGA tournaments, instead opting to return to her home base in Florida.
Korda birdied the last for a 72, missing a chance for her second victory of the year after leading after each of the first three rounds. She won the season-opening Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions in January for her sixth LPGA Tour title.
"Really frustrating, really couldn't get anything going," Korda said. "I was hitting it really good and then just it wasn't happening for me for some reason. Just kept getting screwed and the wind kept dropping and then coming back up. .. it just wasn't happening. I don't know."
She parred the first six and bogeyed Nos. 7 and 9, made her first birdie of the day on the par-5 13th, then gave the stroke back on 14.
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"I tried. I tried to force a couple birdies," Korda said. "I had a great little 8-iron into the par-5 15th and takes the biggest bounce I've ever seen and goes over the green."
While Henderson made her move early on the back nine, Ko bogeyed the 11th and 12th in a 72 that left her tied with Australia's Hannah Green at 14 under. The South Korean star was coming off a two-week break after finishing seventh in the ANA Inspiration.
"Was tough," Ko said. "Wind was difficult out there. ... I couldn't focus on my game."
Green eagled the 14th and birdied the par-5 15th in a 66.
Major champions So Yeon Ryu (68) and Angela Stanford (70) tied for fifth at 12 under.
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With files from CBC Sports