SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Canadian teenager Brooke Henderson has already grown accustomed to defying the odds in her short yet successful LPGA career but when she takes out the driver to smash one down the fairway, it also looks like she is defying physics.
Last year, Henderson made her LPGA breakthrough when she stormed to victory by eight shots at the Cambia Portland Classic after coming through Monday qualifiers, the victory earning the decorated junior a deserved full tour membership.
The 18-year-old stood out as an amateur and has the game to regularly challenge for honors in the professional ranks but in order to give herself the best possible chance of victory, Henderson has opted to use the longest permissible driver.
Standing just 5ft-4in (162.5 cm) tall, the Ontario native looks out of her depth when she whips out the 48-inch driver on the tee but Henderson has been wielding the club that comes up to her shoulder to great effect already this season.
“I worked with my club supplier almost two months ago and we were just trying to get some extra distance out of me and decided to go with the 48-inch driver,” she told reporters at the HSBC Women’s Champions on Saturday.
“I may lose a little bit of accuracy but I normally hit it pretty straight anyway,” she added after carding a bogey-free five under 67 to leave her four strokes behind leader Jang Ha-na heading into Sunday’s final round.
“I think on this course you’ve really got to be careful on tee shots and play smart. I think we did a really good job of that so far this week and if I can just continue to hit it straight, that always helps.”
Henderson has recorded top-10 finishes in her last two starts on the tour and had her putter not gone cold on the back-nine in Singapore, she could have been within one or two shots of the lead heading into the last round.
“Everything was going pretty well today. I was able to make a few putts early, which really helped and kept the momentum going,” she said.
“On the back nine, I missed a lot of birdie opportunities. It’s kind of unfortunate but was able to get one on 18.”
The teenager is also loving the traveling aspect of her first full year on the LPGA Tour and has relished the opportunity to play recent events in Australia, Thailand and now Singapore with elder sister Brittany carrying her bag.
“I love it. It’s so much fun. This is my first year, so really getting to see the globe for the first time,” she added.
“It’s really fun, and to be able to share it with my sister and do this journey together is really cool.”
Reporting by John O'Brien