The sun was shining brightly for the first time all week at the Hugel-Air Premia LA Open shortly before the final group teed off Saturday afternoon. The clouds then rolled in as Jessica Korda, Jin Young Ko and Brooke Henderson emerged on the tee to open the curtains and dim the lights at Wilshire Country Club.
Henderson dominated the stage with her latest career blockbuster. She shot four-under-par 67 to finish at a tournament-record 16-under and beat Jessica Korda (72) by one shot. Australia’s Hannah Green secured a tie for third place thanks to a final-round of five-under.
At 23, Canadian Henderson reached a milestone in winning her 10th career LPGA title.
“To get my ninth win was such a big deal in Canada [in 2019], and since then I been just trying to chase that 10th one,” Henderson said. “To get it here, it’s just … I’m just so happy and it’s hard to believe.”
Henderson started the day four strokes behind Korda and doubled the largest previous comeback of her career, when she was two behind Lydia Ko in the 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and won in a playoff for her lone major title.
On Saturday, Henderson made six birdies, including a run of three in four holes from Nos.11-14. She took her first lead of the tournament with a birdie at 11, and her chip-in birdie at the uphill par-3 12th gave her a two-shot advantage.
It was a discouraging result for Korda, who made only two birdies on the day, including one at 18, and was baffled by the wind after posting previous rounds of 64-65-68.
“Really frustrating, really couldn’t get anything going,” said Korda, who won the season-opening Tournament of Champions and hadn’t missed a cut in 2021. “I was hitting it really good and then it wasn’t happening for me for some reason.
“The wind kept dropping and then coming back up. … I couldn’t make anything happen today. I tried. I tried to force a couple birdies. I had a great little 8-iron into the par-5 15 and [it] takes the biggest bounce I’ve ever seen and goes over the green.” (She made par.)
Henderson, whose last win came in June 2019 at the Meijer LPGA Classic, preached patience and needing breaks to return to the winner’s circle before last week’s Lotte Championship, where she tied for 27th while trying to win the event for a third straight time. The 30 starts without a win were the longest streak of her career.
“I think probably the biggest break was 12, that chip-in,” Henderson said. “Those breaks can be really small or they can be really big. Today I had tons of opportunity where the people I was playing with showed me the line on putts. They were always just a little bit behind me, so I always had a read on every green. That just only happens when it’s meant to be.
“I felt like I was playing really great golf,” she said of her winless streak. “It just wasn’t my time. God has a plan for everything, and just really happy.”
The ninth tee at Wilshire happens to be next to the Canadian consulate. It hoists an enormous Canadian flag that’s visible on the southeastern part of the course. It provided a level of enjoyment to Henderson throughout the tournament.
“The Canadian flag, yeah, that was pretty cool,” Henderson said. “It’s a little piece of Canada right here in LA”
She’s got her own place in LA history now.