After a two year hiatus, the 2022 CP Women’s Open finally returns, teeing it up this weekend at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club.
While it’s obviously a four day competition, LPGA events go for seven days – the first three crammed with pro-ams, practice rounds, interviews, autographs and general shmoozing with fans and sponsors. As kind a soul as she is, Brooke Henderson would never complain about it, but she’s probably glad the actual golf tournament has finally arrived. Henderson, who tees off Thursday at 1:04pm, has been pulled in every different direction this week. Everyone has wanted time with the hometown favourite and she’s been her usual engaging, accommodating self every step of the way.
“Yeah, it’s definitely a balance,” Henderson said. “2017 was a really big learning experience for me when it was held here in Ottawa. Finding the correct amount of time to have practice and also rest, and also to give to media, and to fans, and to CP, who I’m a proud ambassador for, it is a bit of a balance trying to work that out and making sure you’re ready to go come Thursday. I feel like over the last few years I’ve really learned a lot and how to manage my time.”
After finishing 12th in Ottawa in 2017, Henderson’s time management skills and poise were definitely on display a year later when she won this event in Regina. And there were lessons learned there as well, with every Regina golf fan equally excited to see her, hoping she could break Canada’s 45 year drought in our national championship.
“I think the biggest thing is just being in the moment and just try and make the best decision and hit the best shot that you can at that exact moment,” Henderson said. “Just try to make the best of every situation, not try to get too far ahead of yourself and not looking in the past at a bad shot.”
One of the great story lines this week has been 12 year old Vancouver golfer Lucy Lin getting into this event as a Monday qualifier. Henderson was something of a golf prodigy herself, becoming the youngest-ever winner of the Women’s PGA Championship.
“It’s amazing to see all the young talent coming out and to Monday qualify,” Henderson said. “I was in a bunch of Monday qualifiers a few years ago and they’re tough. There’s a lot of competition so it’s pretty impressive (Lin) was able to get in and to be playing this week. I played in my first Canadian Open when I was 14 and it was just life changing. So I’m sure this week will be really huge for her.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Canadian golf great Lorie Kane makes her final Canadian Open appearance this week at age 57. Kane had four career victories and 99 top-10 finishes on the tour.
“Lorie’s incredible,” Henderson said. “Growing up, she was women’s golf in Canada. I’ve looked up to her and she’s been a great friend and a great mentor. All of Canada loves her dearly. It is sad that this her last one. But it’s amazing the career that she’s had.”
70,000 tickets have been sold for this tournament, about the equivalent of 5 or 6 Ottawa Senators games. And the Senators have certainly been well-represented at this year’s event. GM Pierre Dorion, Hall of Famer Daniel Alfredsson and newcomer Claude Giroux – all golf nuts – were among those teeing it up in the pro-am this week.
Henderson and her sister, Brittany – also her long time caddy – both threw on Sens jerseys Wednesday on the 17th hole, where the new Rink Hole made its debut. The area around the tee is decked out to look like an ice-less hockey rink.
Fans on social media openly wondered why the Hendersons chose the jersey numbers they did. Was it their parents’ birth years? Was Brooke’s number a nod to the Ottawa 67s? Maybe a prediction of her first round score? Most Sens fans were happy to assume (probably inaccurately) that Brooke was taking a playful poke at Ottawa’s provincial rivals, who haven’t won a Cup since 1967.
Henderson is almost too good to be true.