June 23, 2014 3:31 pm

Canadian teenage golfer stars at U.S. Women’s Open

Brooke Henderson chips to the 12th hole during the first round of the U.S. Women's Open golf tournament in Pinehurst, N.C., Thursday, June 19, 2014.

AP Photo/Bob Leverone

Like most 16-year-olds, Brooke Henderson is worried about her final exams. But unlike the vast majority of high schoolers concerned about their studies, Henderson has an excuse for not hitting the books: Last week she played in the U.S. Women’s Open, cracking the Top 10 and garnering low amateur honours.

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“This time I sort of knew a little bit more and I watched the men on TV on Sunday so I knew how the course was playing and what to expect,” says Henderson, from Smiths Falls, Ont., who finished 59th in last year’s U.S. Open. “I am much more comfortable on the LPGA Tour and I was able to take that comfort level and play my best.”

Henderson, who plays on Golf Canada’s national women’s team and is ranked No. 3 among female amateur golfers, is also Canada’s top-ranked female player overall.

Despite her success, Henderson admitted she has some anxiety about the course, which held the men’s U.S. Open a week earlier. Pinehurst No. 2 was all shades of brown, as fairways and greens firmed up under the Carolina sun. Outside of the fairways were new areas of nasty native grasses and sand that gobbled up wayward shots.

“The course was very difficult and the beginning of the week I was a little intimidated because the course was so hard and running so firm and fast,” she says. “But everyday after my practice round I was getting more comfortable.”

Henderson’s poise and maturity has won her a lot of fans, including Canadian LPGA golfer Lorie Kane.

“We just let Brooke do what she’s doing and she’ll be a star,” Kane says. “She’s engaging and she’s got swagger and her parents are great. She calls me to play a practice round. I mean, wow.”

The next big question facing Henderson is whether she’ll turn pro or attend the University of Florida, which is the current plan. It is becoming tougher for Henderson to justify college, especially when she sees amateurs like Stephanie Meadow turn pro and earn $271,000 for finishing third at the U.S. Open. By retaining her amateur status, Henderson passed on $90,861 for her T10 finish.

Henderson and her parents have been adamant that she’ll play college golf in the past, but it sounds like the golfer might be reconsidering that notion.

“Having a Top 10 finish at an LPGA major is amazing and it was a lot of fun to be part of that,” says Henderson. “I’m committed to the University of Florida right now, but we’ll just see.”

What’s next for Henderson? She’s in Niagara Falls for a two-day Canadian women’s tour event, and then she has to hit the books. On Thursday she’ll face another sort of challenge—her high school finals in biology and English. Is she as prepared as she was for the U.S. Open?

“Not quite, I’ll do some studying tonight,” she says.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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