Brooke Henderson, golf’s latest phenom, will make her start at this week’s Canadian Pacific Women’s Open as a member of the LPGA Tour.
The 17-year-old won her first LPGA tournament on Sunday, on Monday petitioned the LPGA to forgo its requirement that members be 18, and received a waiver of the organization’s age rule on Tuesday.
“After reviewing Brooke Henderson’s petition, I have granted her LPGA Tour membership beginning immediately,” tour commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement on Tuesday. “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.”
Henderson’s record-breaking victory in last week’s Cambia Portland Classic earned her the right to tour affiliation. Without a waiver of the age requirement, though, she would have had to wait until September 10, when she turns 18, to compete as an LPGA member.
The decision to dispense with the age regulation was a no-brainer for Whan, who did the same for Lexi Thompson and Lydia Ko after each won a tour event before turning 18. A victory in Portland, Ore., would have done the trick but Henderson made a statement when she smashed a couple of records along the way.
Henderson, who Monday-qualified for the event at Columbia Edgewater, set a tourney scoring record of 21-under. Her eight-shot margin of victory over a trio of runners-up broke that previous mark by two shots.
The young Canadian, who turned pro in December, has won $661,264 in 10 LPGA events in 2015 but the earnings are unofficial and she will tee it up in her national open with no money or points in the Rookie of the Year race. Though she is eligible for the final major of the season, next month’s Evian Championship, and the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, Henderson will have to pocket some cash quickly to qualify for limited-field tourneys in Asia and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational.
“Since I was a little girl in Smiths Falls, Ontario, my dream has been to play on the LPGA tour,” said Henderson, who is ranked 17th in the world. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to join the tour as a member and play alongside so many of my role models.
“Realizing this dream here at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in my native Canada is even more amazing, and I am so proud to be an ambassador for golf in this amazing country,” she added. “I would like to thank Commissioner Mike Whan, the LPGA tour staff, and all my sponsors, fans, friends and my amazing family for all the support I have received.”