ORLANDO, Fla. — When you reach a certain level of accomplishment on the golf course, you become known by only your first name. Tiger. Jack. Arnie. Annika. The practice is undoubtedly endearing, and it’s reserved for an elite group of players.
After Sunday at Lake Nona, Brooke Henderson might be next in line for the first-name-only treatment.
Henderson ran away with the title Sunday at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions, besting Maja Stark and Charley Hull by four shots to earn the crown. The win is the Canadian’s 13th overall LPGA victory, and her third over the past seven months.
“It was kind of the dream start, which is really exciting,” Henderson said. “[I’ve] always really wanted to win this one, so happy I finally got it.”
When Henderson arrived at Lake Nona on Sunday morning, she had one hand on the trophy, but the result was far from certain. Winds whipping across Lake Nona produced white caps. Her nearest competitors, Nelly Korda and Nasa Hataoka, sat just three strokes back. And with Henderson coming off a fall of injury and uncertainty, an evening spot in the winner’s circle felt much further away than just 18 holes.
Once the first tee balls were in the air, none of it mattered.
Henderson, armed with her shiny new TaylorMade setup, played nearly flawless. She poured in three birdies — taking advantage of her length on the par 5s — and kept the bogeys to a minimum. She dropped just one stroke on the day with a bogey on the par-3 6th, but played two under the rest of the way home to secure the trophy.
“All parts of the game were working really well this week, which that doesn’t always happen, so it was really nice to benefit from that and be able to hoist this trophy,” Henderson said. “I’m really happy I made the switch to TaylorMade, and hopefully the success just continues.”
With the win, Henderson adds to her impressive resume that includes the 13 victories, including two major championships, and an undisputed claim as the most decorated Canadian golfer of all time. Not since Mike Weir in 2004 at Augusta has a golfer from north of the border captivated the golf world like Henderson. And not since Moe Norman has a Canuck been so influential.
That influence was apparent throughout the week at Lake Nona — but especially on Sunday. Canadian snowbirds dotted the galleries, clad in red and white, waving Canadian flags and cheering on their countrywoman in support.
But no moment of Canadian patriotism stood out more than the scene adjacent to the 18th fairway. There, on a boat in Lake Nona, a fan waved a Maple Leaf Flag from the back of a pontoon.
“I thought that was pretty cool,” Henderson said. “It was really awesome to see them on 18.”
After rolling in the clinching putt and being sufficiently soaked in champagne, Henderson walked to the scoring area to sign her card. Lining the path there, a crowd of supporters showered her in praises.
Congratulations, Brooke! We love you, Brooke!
The first-name-only treatment is already underway.
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