Brooke Henderson has decided to tee it up against the world's top female golfers.
The Canadian teenage golf sensation announced Thursday she'll join the LPGA Tour in 2015 instead of attending the University of Florida. The 17-year-old native of Smiths Falls, Ont., was the world's top-ranked amateur women's player this year and made the cut in all four LPGA events she entered.
"I'm ready to turn pro," Henderson said during a conference call. "It's my dream to play against the best in the world and to be able to compete on the LPGA would be a dream come true.
"I know it's along road ahead of me but I'm excited for it . . . this is the right decision."
Henderson has also signed with management and marketing firm IMG.
Henderson won seven amateur tournaments and two pro events in a solid 2014 campaign. She captured the individual title at the world amateur championship in Japan, then combined with Brittany Marchand of Orangeville, Ont., and Augusta James of Bath, Ont., to earn Canada a second-place finish in the team event.
But the articulate teen didn't look out of place against some of the world's top female golfers. She finished tied for 10th — and was the top amateur — in the U.S. Women's Open and was tied for 26th at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, which is also a major.
She also was the low amateur and low Canadian at the Canadian Pacific Women's Open in London, Ont., last August but said her play at the U.S. Open Women's Open figured in her decision to turn pro.
"Last season was very successful and a big confidence-booster for me in many ways," she said. "Having that great finish (at U.S. Open) definitely was a point where I could see myself playing in the LPGA Tour, seeing this as a career and taking it to the next step."
Henderson recorded over 50 career victories as a amateur and in 2012 became the youngest player ever to win a pro event. She was 14 years, nine months and three days when she captured a Canadian Women's Tour title.
However, Henderson understands success at the pro level can be elusive and very difficult to achieve.
"Golf is a game of ups and downs and there's going to be times where it's going to be a struggle," she said. "But I love the game of golf and through those times I have to remember that passion I have.
"I know it's just part of the game."
Henderson hasn't yet finalized her 2015 schedule, saying she expects that to come into better focus sometime next month. School won't be an issue initially as Henderson is just finishing her last semester of Grade 12 and added being a pro golfer "doesn't take away my opportunities for college down the road. The door is still wide open."