OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. — Brooke Henderson, who defends her title beginning Thursday in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, is only 19. Already she’s the second-youngest woman to win an LPGA major championship, and there’s no reason to think the Canadian couldn’t become the first repeat winner since Inbee Park won three in a row from 2013 to 2015.
Despite her youth, Henderson is a proven winner. Her victory in last year’s KPMG event at Sahalee, in Washington, was no fluke. She has won twice since, the latest coming June 18 in the Meijer LPGA Classic in Michigan, where she shot a career-low 63 in the first round and held off American stars Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie for a two-stroke victory.
Henderson’s win in last year’s KPMG event elevated her to No. 2 in the world. She’s since dropped to No. 12 in the Rolex Rankings, but that could be deceiving. She has 12 top-25 finishes in 15 starts this season and ranks third on the tour with 206 birdies.
Clearly the talent is there, and she’s rested after taking last week off from tournament play.
“My game is in a great place right now,” Henderson said. “I’ve been saying that all year, but when I won the Meijer, that proved to some of the naysayers and proved to myself that I am in a great position. It always comes down to a few breaks and making a few putts to get the momentum going your way. Hopefully this week I can start out fast and then keep the momentum throughout the weekend.”
Henderson has a great record in KPMG events. She received a sponsor’s invite in 2015 and tied for fifth after leading early. That was a confidence builder for a 17-year-old. Last year at Sahalee she…