Canada’s Henderson hopes to repeat at Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions

ORLANDO, FLORIDA - JANUARY 18: Brooke M. Henderson of Canada walks on the eighth hole with caddie Brittany Henderson during the first round of the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club on January 18, 2024 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Brooke Henderson is eager to get back on the roller-coaster that is an LPGA Tour season.

Henderson, from Smiths Falls, Ont., will be the only Canadian in the field at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions when the LPGA Tour tees off its 2024 campaign on Thursday. The exclusive tournament has winners from the past two seasons on the top women’s circuit competing, as well as a celebrity tournament.

She qualified for it as a two-time winner in 2022 and as the 2023 Tournament of Champions’ victor, even though the rest of her year didn’t go as she had hoped.

“There’s lots of highs and lots of lows and you just have to continue to ride it out and be patient,” said Henderson at a news conference. “Starting out with a win here last year, definitely a huge high and then I did have some lows throughout the year.”

Henderson missed the cut five times last season after winning the Tournament of Champions on Jan. 22. She didn’t reach another top 10 until the Amundi Evian Championship, where she finished second on July 27.

Her performance improved from there, finishing 12th at the CME Group Tour Championship, the LPGA Tour’s season finale, on Nov. 16. She then ended the year on a high note too, finishing second with partner Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., at the Grant Thornton Invitational, a non-sanctioned event that brings together golfers from the LPGA Tour and the men’s PGA Tour.

“I feel like near the end of the season, I was starting to climb my way back up,” said Henderson, who finished last season 15th on the Race to CME Globe standings and starts the season ranked No. 13 on the Rolex Rankings. “I just started to see a lot of positives near the end of the season so I tried to continue that on through the off-season.

“I’m excited to be playing here this week, playing next week as well (at the LPGA Drive On Championship), couple weeks off and go to Asia, which I always really look forward to playing those events over there.”

Henderson has fresh start in her bag too, having worked in an entirely new set of clubs over the past few months. The 26-year-old replaced her irons in the fall, then switched out her fairway woods, driver, and putter.

She’s particularly excited about her new Qi10 driver, which she first tried during a photo shoot for TaylorMade.

“I had to use it that day for some photos and I used it on the range and I was like, ‘Wow, I love this!’ so it went immediately into my bag,” said Henderson, who noted that its added power was a boon since the LPGA Tour shrunk the maximum length of drivers from 48 inches to 46 two years ago.

“(The new driver) has been such a great change. I’ve gained a little bit of distance and I feel like I’m hitting it a lot straighter, which gives me a lot of confidence moving forward.”

Henderson said that she loves the Tournament of Champions because the smaller, elite 35-player field and celebrity tourney gives it a different feel from the typical LPGA Tour event.

“This is a great way to start out the year,” said Henderson. “It’s an amazing atmosphere, it’s really fun.

There’s concerts three nights of the week, big parties, and it’s just a little bit more chill. it’s great vibes.”