Henderson dominant through three LPGA rounds in Portland

Canadian teen golfer Brooke Henderson may be too young to be on the LPGA Tour full time, but the 17-year old is nonetheless leading the field in Portland at the end of play on Saturday.

Through 54 holes and holding a five shot lead at 18-under par, the Smiths Falls, Ontario golf prodigy is on the verge of winning her first LPGA title, a feat that would grant her automatic Tour entry. Her progress through three days has been steady and impressive.

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Henderson at the US Women's Open in July 2015. She tied for 5th-place and won over $141,000.

Henderson at the US Women’s Open in July 2015. She tied for 5th-place and won over $141,000.

In the first round on Thursday Henderson shot six under and headed to the clubhouse in second place. On Friday, she made another six birdies – including the final hole – to take the tournament lead against a single bogey. As if to reverse that one solitary mistake on Saturday, Henderson birdied the par four 11th hole that tripped her up the previous day, stretching her lead against the field.

“It’s pretty cool,” Henderson had said of her Portland experience through the first two days to a Tour reporter after taking the lead on Friday, drawing on some of the previous top level tournaments she has played since turning pro in December.

“I think it’s a great position to be in but I know it’s a long way from being over and I have a lot of work to do.”

At 18-under par through three rounds, some of the top names Henderson is leading include number two and three LPGA money leaders this season, New Zealand’s Lydia Ko (-2) and United States’ Stacy Lewis (-6), respectively. Lewis was named the 2014 Player of the Year, while Ko was LPGA’s top rookie last year. Currently closest to Henderson in Portland are American Morgan Pressel (-13) and Germans Caroline Masson and Sandra Gal (-12). Alena Sharp is the next highest ranking Canadian at nine under.

Despite playing in a limited number of tournaments, Henderson is working toward finishing top-40 on the LPGA money list to earn a permanent Tour card for 2016, the same year golf would return to the Olympic Games, potentially giving Henderson a chance to win a medal for Canada at Rio 2016. She is also scheduled to play on Canadian soil in nearby Vancouver next week. Top-40 won’t be needed if Henderson wins in Portland.

Brooke Henderson at KPMG Women's PGA golf championship June 14, 2015.

Brooke Henderson at KPMG Women’s PGA golf championship June 14, 2015.

“I’m hitting the ball really well, and I’m in a great position, » Henderson said following the third round. Her plan now is to « just get a good night’s rest and keep doing what I’m doing.”

To qualify for the weekend, Henderson had to shoot a four under par 68 last Monday. According to the LPGA, the deal was that if the younger Henderson hadn’t qualified, she was going to caddy for older sister Brittany, who also played in Portland. Unfortunately for Canadian golf fans, only one Henderson made the cut after two rounds. Good news is that the one who did make the cut is now 18 holes away from a famous win at the Columbia Edgewater Country Club.