LPGA Tour opens door for 17-year-old champion

Teen prodigy Brooke Henderson during the final round of the LPGA Cambia Portland Classic on Aug 16, 2015.
Teen prodigy Brooke Henderson during the final round of the LPGA Cambia Portland Classic on Aug 16, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES • Teenage prodigy Brooke Henderson will be able to compete full-time on the women's professional golf tour with immediate effect, and on home soil this week, after her petition for membership was approved by the LPGA on Tuesday.

The Canadian is hailed as one of the game's most exciting prospects. On Sunday, she became only the third player - atfer New Zealand's Lydia Ko (15) and American Lexi Thompson (16) - to win an LPGA event before her 18th birthday.

Brooke, who turns 18 on Sept 10, stormed to victory by a staggering eight shots at the LPGA Portland Classic in Oregon.

LPGA commissioner Michael Whan said: "Brooke truly earned her card, and we are looking forward to Brooke joining our Tour and our family. She is a special player and a wonderful person."

The LPGA Tour has an 18 years age requirement for membership but Whan can waive the rule, as he did in 2011 for Thompson and two years later for Ko.

"Since I was a little girl in Smiths Falls, Ontario, my dream has been to play on the LPGA Tour," said Brooke, who will be competing this week at the Canadian Women's Open in Vancouver. "I am so grateful for the opportunity to join the tour as a member and play alongside so many of my role models.

"Realising this dream ... in my native Canada is even more amazing."

Brooke, ranked 17th in the world, has played 10 events - through sponsor exemptions and Monday qualifying - on the LPGA Tour this year, winning US$661,818 (S$928,000) in unofficial earnings.

That total would place her 15th on the LPGA money list.

She was a runner-up at last year's US Women's Amateur and has recorded consecutive top-10s at the US Women's Open - joint 10th last year and tied for fifth this year.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2015, with the headline 'LPGA Tour opens door for 17-year-old champion'. Print Edition | Subscribe