Brooke Henderson Ready for a Major Return at Sahalee in 2024
When Brooke Henderson captured the 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship for her first major title, the 18-year-old got asked to hold the trophy in a certain way by a journalist from north of the border – an iconic pose that almost every Canadian knows.
“Over your head! Like the Stanley Cup!”
Henderson, who defeated then-world No.1 Lydia Ko in a playoff after both golfers finished at 6 under for the week, dutifully lifted the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship trophy in celebration that Sunday.
And she cannot wait for the Championship’s return to Sahalee Country Club in 2024 to hopefully recreate some more magic.
“I’m so excited the event is going back to Sahalee. That was honestly the perfect week,” said Henderson. “Back in 2016 to win my first major in a playoff against the world No.1 and hoist my first major championship trophy on that amazing golf course that was so tough… to go out there at 6 under and winning it was amazing and I’m excited to have the opportunity to do it again.”
Sahalee, which hosted the 1998 PGA Championship (won by Vijay Singh), has constantly been ranked as one of the top courses in the United States. It will slide into the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship schedule after the 2023 edition at the iconic Baltusrol Golf Club and prior to the debut of the Championship at the new PGA Frisco in 2025.
The club, which was designed by Ted Robinson in 1969 and renovated by Reese Jones in 1996, has 27 holes of championship golf. The South and North nines will once again be utilized for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Sahalee Country Club takes its name after the Chinook phrase, “High Heavenly Ground” and is carved out of tall Cedar and Douglas Fir native to the Pacific Northwest.
Henderson said at the beginning of the week in 2016 she was speaking in the tournament’s dining area with a few caddies, and everyone was wondering what it was going to take to win that week. They were unsure if anyone would finish under par.
“It is so tight,” said Henderson with a laugh. “It’s tree-lined and number-one: you have to hit fairways there. It’s a must.
“It takes everything you have physically and mentally. It’s going to test every player in every way, and I think that’s what you want at a major championship. It was a dream week in 2016 and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to be back there and hopefully do something similar.”
Henderson held the first-round lead after a 4-under 67 – a round that included a car-winning ace on the par-3 13th (a 7-iron from 152 yards). Despite a 2-over 73 in the second round, she was tied for the lead heading into the weekend. The Canadian shot another 73 on Saturday to drop into a tie for fourth, but she was only two shots back for Sunday’s finale.
That’s when Henderson stepped on the gas.
She fired a tidy 6-under 65, highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 11th, in the final round (the round of the tournament) and finished tied with Lydia Ko through 72 holes. Ko shot a final-round 67.
The playoff lasted just one hole as Ko’s birdie try from about 20 feet missed left, while Henderson’s birdie from about three feet found the bottom of the cup.
Since that major triumph Henderson has gone on to win 10 more times on the LPGA Tour, including the Amundi Evian Championship this past summer, and is the winningest Canadian of all time on either the LPGA or PGA Tour.
Iconic venues have become the norm for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and Henderson said it “means a lot” to continue to have this Championship contested at such big-time courses.
“Especially Sahalee – it will always have a special place in my heart. Those memories from 2016 will never be forgotten,” said Henderson. “To be able to go back there and play will be awesome. Hopefully it will be another dream week.”