Canadian Henderson latest teen turning heads in women's game

Fri May 15, 2015 12:32pm EDT
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By Tim Wharnsby

CAMBRIDGE, Ontario (Reuters) - New Zealand's Lydia Ko and American Lexi Thompson are simply known as Lydia and Lexi on the LPGA scene. No surnames are needed for the two young golf standouts.

Ko, 18, and Thompson, 20, both made history by winning LPGA events before their 18th birthday but that exclusive club could soon welcome a new member.

Canadian Brooke Henderson, who landed a sponsor's exemption into the June 11-14 KPMG Women's PGA Championship, sure hopes so. The 17-year-old wunderkind from Smiths Falls, Ontario, has already come close.

She held the 54-hole lead at last month's Swinging Skirts Classic in San Francisco and went on to finish third. She jumped out to the 36-hole lead at the Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout in Dallas a week later but wound up in a tie for 13th.

A Henderson win this summer would not only make history and give her first-name status in women's golf, but a victory likely would allow her to gain her LPGA member’s card.

The LPGA Tour has a minimum age requirement of 18. When she turned professional last December, Henderson petitioned LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan to attend the LPGA qualifying school.

But Whan turned down Henderson. Unlike Thompson and Ko, who were allowed early entry to the LPGA Tour because they had won, Henderson has yet to win.

So, for now, the only way she gets into LPGA tournaments is to qualify or through sponsor's exemption. Even her third-place finish in San Francisco did not earn her a spot in Dallas. She had to travel across country to Monday qualify.   Continued...

LPGA amateur golfer Brooke M. Henderson (CAN) hits her tee shot on the eighth hole during the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women's Open golf tournament at London Hunt and Country Club in London, Ontario. Aug 24, 2014. Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports