SPORTS

Canadian Henderson gets sponsor's exemption to play at Manulife LPGA Classic

05/04/2015 10:35 EDT | Updated 05/04/2016 05:12 EDT
CAMBRIDGE, Ont. - Canadian golfer Brooke Henderson isn't just happy to be in the field at top-flight events on the LPGA Tour. She's showing that she's a threat to win.

Henderson finished tied for third at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic last month in Daly City, Calif., and followed that up by finishing tied for 13th at the North Texas Shootout in Irving, Texas, over the weekend.

The 17-year-old from Smiths Falls, Ont., has played in the final pairing on a Sunday and seen her name at the top of the leaderboard. She has also played in groups with Tour stars like Inbee Park, Juli Inkster and Cristie Kerr.

While the results have been impressive, the experience of playing with the sport's best has been invaluable.

"I'm learning lots just watching them and learning about how they handle pressure on those Sunday afternoons," Henderson said. "It's amazing to see and it's amazing to learn from."

Henderson said she's getting used to the grind of life on the tour. The day after her third-place finish, she was right back on course the next day for a qualifying round.

The two-day qualifying effort landed her a spot in the field at the Shootout, and she again showed she belonged by starting 69-65 for the 36-hole lead. Henderson finished with a 71-73 for a total of 6-under 278.

After the round, it was back on a plane to Canada for a news conference to promote the June 4-7 Manulife LPGA Classic in Cambridge, Ont.

"I'm young, I'm full of energy," Henderson said. "It has been definitely a little bit of adrenalin the last two weeks. I wouldn't change it for the world."

Henderson was greeted by a throng of reporters at the Whistle Bear Golf Club on Monday morning.

"I like it, it means I'm doing something right," she said. "I'm really excited (about) my last two weeks. I'm excited for what the future holds. It's great to receive this attention in a positive light and hopefully that continues."

Henderson will receive a sponsor's exemption to play at the US$1.5-million tournament. Other Canadians in the field include Lorie Kane of Charlottetown and Jennifer Kirby of Paris, Ont.

They'll be joined in the 150-player field by Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Lydia Ko and Brittany Lincicome. Former champions Inbee Park, Hee Young Park and Brittany Lang are also among the early confirmations.

Henderson finishing tied for 33rd at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic last February in her first Tour event since turning pro. She picked up a cool $132,721 payday for her third-place tie last month and added $19,919 for her latest result.

Henderson will use another sponsor's exemption to play in the May 29-31 Shop-Rite LPGA Classic in Galloway, N.J. She's also interested in playing for Canada at this summer's Pan Am Games in Toronto and has her eye on the Summer Olympics next year in Rio.

Henderson is allowed six sponsor's exemptions this season. She has yet to finalize her 2015 calendar but will likely need to go the qualification route at a number of events. She said she's up for the challenge.

"I believe that I'm still a long way from where I want to be," Henderson said. "So I've got to work hard."

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