Canadian teen Brooke Henderson is now an LPGA Tour member.
After winning last week's Cambia Portland Classic, the 17-year-old wasn't automatically granted LPGA membership because she is younger than the tour's age floor of 18. Henderson had to petition commissioner Mike Whan for membership, which she did on Monday. On Tuesday, Whan granted Henderson's request.
“Brooke truly earned her card, and we are looking forward to Brooke joining our tour and our family,” said Whan. “She’s a special player and a wonderful person.”
Henderson is now an LPGA member, exempt through the rest of this season and 2016 under Category 7, reserved for non-members who win in the prior season. It also means that, starting with this week's Canadian Pacific Women's Open, Henderson is officially a rookie for the remainder of this season.
Though Henderson is now an LPGA member, she starts again from zero in terms of official money and points toward the Rolex Rookie of the Year standings. The $661,234 Henderson has earned this season doesn't count as official money. Henderson will have to amass money quickly to earn berths in the events comprising the tour's fall Asian swing. She's in the field this week, the Evian Championship and the Yokohoma Tire LPGA Classic, giving her three chances to earn approximately $165,000. She won $195,000 last week for her win in Oregon.
Henderson could have chosen to defer her membership until next season, after turning 18, but she would then only have been exempt for 2016 and, for the rest of this year, been in the same position of needing to Monday qualify or get sponsor exemptions into events.
Asked Tuesday, Henderson made it clear she wasn't bitter about the long road to membership, which included making it through a string of Monday qualifiers and performing when granted sponsor's exemptions.
“I think it was probably the best thing that could have happened to me,” Henderson said. “It really made me realize what I really wanted in life, and what I really desired, and it made me work really, really hard. It made me focus and be more determined. This way it feels a lot better knowing that I deserve to be out here.”