When Brooke Henderson won the Evian Championship in July, her place in Canadian golf history was cemented.
The 24-year-old from Smiths Falls, Ontario was the first Canadian professional golfer to ever win multiple majors.
Henderson’s first major title came at the 2016 Women’s PGA Championship when she was just 18 years old.
She has 10 other career tour wins including the ShopRite LPGA Classic in June. Her 12 total titles are more than any Canadian professional golfer in history.
She has twice participated in the Olympic Games.
By the numbers – and here we make the caveat that you can’t compare eras or that it’s impossible to weigh Henderson’s two majors against, say, Mike Weir’s Masters win – Henderson is the greatest Canadian golfer of all time.
“If she hasn’t done anything else in golf by the time she walks away tomorrow, which won’t happen, she’s already had a tremendous career,” said Lorne Rubenstein, a longtime golf columnist for the Globe & Mail who writes for now ResultGolf.
CLOCK | Henderson wins Evian Championship:
On the contrary, tomorrow Henderson is about to dive right back into another major at the Women’s British Open at Muirfield in Scotland.
Henderson’s ninth title at the Meijer LPGA Classic in June 2019 put her in sole possession of the Canadian record, surpassing Weir and Canadian golf icons George Knudson and Sandra Post.
“I firmly believe records are made to be broken,” Post told The Canadian Press after Henderson’s 2019 win. “My last win was in 1981, which was another century. I think it’s long overdue. Regardless , who came after me, I always wished they would do better than me.”
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Henderson is not only one of Canada’s golf greats, she is also one of the most successful Canadian individual athletes currently in the profession. Tennis is probably the closest match to golf given its format – 22-year-old Bianca Andreescu has a Major title of three that falls short of Henderson.
De Grasse’s Olympic 200m gold could tip the scales in his favor, along with five other Olympic medals and five other World Championship podiums, including the recent 4x100m relay gold.
Golf doesn’t award second- and third-place medals, but Henderson has 68 career top-10 finishes.
In any case, the difference between Henderson and established Canadian superstars like Andreescu, Oleksiak and De Grasse is narrower than you might expect.
What they all have in common is the ability to perform when it matters most.
After becoming the first golfer in LPGA history to open a major with two rounds of 64 at the Evian Championship, Henderson slowed on Saturday and fell from the lead at one point on Sunday.
On the sixth hole, the Canadian even made four putts for a double bogey, and the championship slowly slipped away from her.
But Henderson reversed the script on the back nine, shagging three of the last five holes, including a clutch putt on 18 to seal the deal.
Between dominating the opening round and being stupid in the final round, Henderson demonstrated all the tools necessary to consistently win on the LPGA Tour.
“When you go into the back nine, they say Sunday majors are won on the back nine, so I was just trying to keep that attitude and knowing that if I have a solid back I’m still in it [nine]’ she said after her win.
“Enthusiasm is very, very important”
Given her age and ability to remain relevant in golf well into her 40’s, there’s no telling what Henderson’s career might be like in the end.
“I think enthusiasm is very, very important. As long as she can keep that up, I think she’s likely to keep winning. But I would never say it’s a safe bet because golf just isn’t like that,” Rubenstein said.
Rubenstein cited the cases of Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa, two highly successful golfers who retired young, as examples showing that Henderson may have less runway than some assume.
CLOCK | Henderson takes 11th title at ShopRite LPGA Classic:
Henderson’s next challenge in Scotland promises to be tough. She did not play at the Scottish Open, where Canada’s Maude-Aimée LeBlanc had a top 10 finish of her own.
And Henderson’s experience of links golf, a very different test from North American golf courses, is limited, Rubenstein said.
“Most players need to learn how to play links golf. But other than that, she’s such a brilliant player and quickly learns that she could just do it well. But we will see.”
Her best result at a British Open to date came in 2018 when she finished 11th.
But with two wins, including a major, already under her belt for 2022, there’s no reason Henderson won’t be competing again.
“She came out and she won once and now she’s won again [at the Evian Championship]. So everything she does points to a long and successful career,” said Rubenstein.