LPGA: Team Henderson is taking off

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Brooke Henderson, left, of Canada, lines up her birdie-attempt as her sister and caddie, Brittany, points out the break on the fourth green during the final round of the Women’s PGA Championship golf tournament at Olympia Fields Country Club July 2, in Olympia Fields, Ill. (Photo by Charles Rex Arbogast.)

By SCOTT COTTOS
SPORTS EDITOR
SYLVANIA — Brittany Henderson had a strong season on the Symetra Tour in 2015, coming within one spot of automatically moving from the developmental circuit to the big league of the LPGA.
In that same year, Brittany’s little sister, Brooke, received an LPGA Tour spot immediately after she not only made the Cambria Portland (Oregon) Classic as a Monday qualifier, but won the event.
Brittany, then 25, put her playing career on hold in 2016 and became her 18-year-old sister’s caddie as Brooke headed out on the tour full-time.
The partnership of the Canadian sisters has worked extremely well, as Brooke, now 19, has won a tournament in each of the past two seasons and rose as high as No. 2 in the Women’s World Golf Ranking.
“We both sort of needed a caddie, so when I had an off week I would caddie for her and when she had an off week, she’d caddy for me,” Brittany said of the 2015 season on Tuesday at Highland Meadows Golf Club during a break from Team Henderson’s preparation for this week’s Marathon LPGA Classic. “I think there was just sort of a reciprocal caddie agreement and we just helped each other out.
“Then, when she earned her full tournament card, she needed someone full time. I liked it when I caddied for her and she liked having me. It was hard to choose giving up on my playing, but I learned in one year that it was just too hard to do both, so I made the choice to focus on caddying. And it’s really fun.”
Brooke, currently ranked No. 8 while holding the No. 4 spot on the 2017 LPGA money list with $1,027,689, said the arrangement has worked well, both on and off the course.
“I love having my sister as my caddy,” Brooke said. “She also does a lot of work for me, booking hotels and flights and everything, so she’s a big asset to my game.
“She’s my best friend, my sister. We spend tons of time together, so we know each other really well and I feel like it helps me to be successful on the golf course.”
Brooke took off as a young player as she grew up around golf in Smiths Falls, Ontario, with her father, David, coaching Brittany.
“I used to play in golf tournaments almost every weekend in the summer, every day, it seemed like, when I was growing up,” Brittany said. “Her being 6½ years younger, she wasn’t really playing yet, but she was watching and she walked along the sidelines swinging an umbrella or swinging a stick she found. I think she learned a lot walking around and watching me in tournaments.”
Brooke said her sister definitely influenced her gravitation toward the game.
“There’s 6½ years between us, so I was always trying to follow in her footsteps, always trying to be just like her,” she said. “And now, to be doing this journey together every single week out on the LPGA Tour is really kind of a dream come true.”
Brittany said she may some day aim to resume her playing career, but for now she’s happy helping doing what she can to play a part in Brooke’s success.
And she believes that success could grow considerably beyond Brooke’s already big achievements.
“The sky’s the limit,” Brittany said of her sister. “She has so much talent. Golf’s a game where you never really know what’s going to happen, but I think she has the potential to do anything she sets her mind to.”
BOUNCING BACK: Toledo native Stacy Lewis drew within one shot of the lead behind four straight birdies as she went to the 11th hole during the third round of last week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Trump National in Bedminster, New Jersey.
But if a triple bogey at 11 and a bogey at No. 12 weren’t trouble enough, she finished with a 10 on the par-5 18th and ended up signing for a 76.
Lewis concluded the tournament in a tie for 27th place. She wasn’t happy about it, but she’s moved on and she’s ready to tackle the coming week.
“Well, it’s golf,” she said in a Tuesday press conference. “You play enough golf and things like that are going to happen. Unfortunately, it was in front of the world and … for everybody to see.”
Lewis will have her usual large following at Highland Meadows, where friends of family have traditionally donned “Lew Crew” T-shirts to walk the course.
And Lewis, who’s won 11 times on tour, would love to bag her first Toledo title.
“It would be a big deal,” she said of winning here. “It would be a big deal for me personally, just being that I was born here, and my parents, I know it would be a big deal to them, and this is also the first LPGA event I ever played in, my first invite.”

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