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August 18, 2015

Brooke Henderson

Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. We would like to welcome the newest member of the LPGA Tour, Brooke Henderson, into the interview room. Brooke, a win in Portland last week and now being granted membership by Commissioner Mike Whan, what has this moment been like for you?

BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, it's still a little bit surreal right now, but the last couple days have been an amazing ride and an amazing journey, and I'm glad I was able to finish it off on Sunday. I've been close a couple times earlier in the year, and to finally get the win and get my membership is unbelievable.

I'm very thankful to Commissioner Mike Whan and all the LPGA for all their support over the last couple of months, and especially to start living my dream out here on the LPGA Tour.

THE MODERATOR: What does it mean to have that title now as member? What does that mean to you and how is it going to be different than how you've been competing in the past.

BROOKE HENDERSON: I'm still going to play my own game and still go out there and do what I've always done, but just to know that I have a place to play now any week that I want to, and I'll have full status for at least a full year now is really exciting. Getting to play this week and Alabama next week, and I'm playing really well right now, so hopefully I can keep it going.

THE MODERATOR: Is it particularly fitting that this news comes at the Canadian Pacific Women's Open where it's your home country's national championship, you're getting to be here in front of all Canadians? Was it really great timing, I guess, on your part, just having this happen, win and then do it this week.

BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, amazing timing. I don't think it could have worked out any better. As you mentioned, coming home, I'm pretty far from my home but still in Canada with all the Canadian support and fans that I've received over the last couple of years, and being on the range, I got a round of applause just walking onto the range yesterday, on Monday of a tournament week. Everybody has wanted an autograph or a picture, and it's pretty cool to be famous.

THE MODERATOR: What has that outpouring of support been like from Canadians? I mentioned to you when we were at Manulife media day earlier this week that our web traffic spikes in Canada every time that you're playing well. It seems like the entire country is following you. What is it like to have that amount of support.

BROOKE HENDERSON: It's unbelievable, really. It's hard to think about it. It's surreal. When I first started to play well this season in San Francisco and in Texas, they mentioned the spike in the ratings, and it's so cool, and people come up to me all the time, and they say, I never really watched women's golf before, but you're making me want to watch it, and my Sundays are really busy now, and it's a great feeling knowing that I'm bringing more people into the game, and hopefully I can inspire younger children, as well, to start the game because it's a great support and something you can play your entire life.

Q. If they had granted your exemption in December, you would be top 20 on the Money List. You'd also probably be leading the Rookie of the Year standings. How different is it now the rest of the season? You still have some time to win another tournament and get some official money. How different is it now, though, than what could have been?
BROOKE HENDERSON: You know, last year when my petition was denied and I didn't get to play qualifying school and have a chance for my card, I think it was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. You know, it really made me realize what I really wanted in life and what I really desired, and it made me work really, really hard, and it made me focus and be more determined. Yeah, like I said, it's probably the best thing that could have happened. It made me work really hard, and this way it feels a lot better knowing that I deserve to be out here.

Q. Obviously your win has brought a lot of attention to Canadian women's golf, but I think you know as well as anyone that there are a lot of other Canadian women who are playing really well right now. You spent some time on the Symetra Tour earlier this year. I was wondering if you could talk about the depth that we're starting to see in the women's game in Canada.
BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, for sure. Canadian golf is growing amazingly, really. The Symetra Tour every week there's tons of Canadians in the top 10. The week that I finished second, there was four Canadians in the top 5, and that's not uncommon out there. It's really, really strong, and same with the Amateur. Brittany Marchand just went through first stage of LPGA Tour school this year and a member of the national team for many years, and Golf Canada has put together many great programs, especially the amateur team which I was a part of for three years, and then the young pro squad, which I just joined on this year. But I think over the next couple years you're going to see a lot of growth, not only in the Symetra Tour to LPGA Tour, but I think more wins on the LPGA Tour are coming.

Q. I don't know if you're aware of a 14-year-old Vancouver girl qualified last night at Meadows Golf Club to play here this week. You of course played here three years ago as a 14-year-old. What kind of advice would you give Tiffany Kong as she prepares to tee it up here on Thursday?
BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, I heard earlier this morning that she qualified, and awesome job to her. That's really cool. I was lucky enough to play here when I was 14. I earned my exemption through winning a Canadian Professional Tour event. I was a shy and nervous 14-year-old, that is for sure, and I've come a long way since then, but I think if she can just enjoy the experience and take as much from it as she can, so talk to pros and engage with the fans and just enjoy the entire atmosphere because it is much different on the LPGA Tour than it is in a junior event or an amateur event. It's completely different. So the more she can take from this year, I think the better she'll be in future events.

Q. Does it feel weird that you're a mentor at 17, and do you like that role for really growing the game here for the youngsters?
BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, it's very cool. Young children and even adults come up to me and want my autograph or want pictures, and there's still players out here that I want their autograph and I want to take pictures with them. It's very neat knowing that I have an opportunity to inspire young ones and help grow the game not only in Canada but all across the globe.

Q. Lorie Kane mentioned that you did play goalie at one time as a hockey player. Is there any correlation between the two sports, being a goaltender and being a golfer? Is there a mindset that's the same?
BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, I definitely agree. I think to be a goalie you have to be a little bit strange, a little bit odd, and I think that's really helped me a long way mentally in preparing for not only professional golf but just golf in general. You know, a shooter coming down on you and you have a one-goal lead, it's a lot of pressure and the whole team is counting on you, and it's the same when you have a three-foot birdie putt to make the cut, it's the same kind of pressure, and I think playing goalie and being always in that hot seat I think has really helped me out on the golf course. And not only mentally but physically, as well. I gained a lot of strength when I was younger, started playing when I was eight to when I was 14, and I really got pretty strong, and I think that's helped me hit the ball a long way in golf, as well.

Q. With the purse you won in Portland, you've made $640,000 in 10 tournaments this year. That's an average of $64,000 a tournament. There's only three players on the LPGA Tour this year, Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis and Lydia Ko, that averaged more than that. In your wildest imagination did you ever think you'd be in that company at the age of 17?
BROOKE HENDERSON: In my dreams, yes, and I think that's something -- I have big goals and big dreams ahead of me, and I'm still a long way from where I want to be, but it's pretty cool to know that I am right in there against and competing against the best in the world, and I think if I can just continue to improve and to get better every day, hopefully good things will happen.

Q. You play a pretty busy schedule this year. Now that you actually have your LPGA membership, will you maybe give yourself some time to kind of breathe and collect yourself? I know you're young, but it has been a busy schedule. Will you slow down a little bit?
BROOKE HENDERSON: Well, I've loved my year so far, and I wouldn't be in this position if I hadn't have done all those things earlier in the year, taking that play from San Francisco to Texas. That's really what got my season started were those two events and really built me a lot of confidence knowing that I could Monday qualify like I did last week and go out there and contend.

I love to play, and I'm hoping to play in Alabama next week, and then I'll go home for a week and take some rest before the Evian Championship, which I got an exemption into, as well. But I love to play and I love to travel, and I think being an LPGA Tour member now has opened up a lot of opportunities for me just to go out there and do what I love.

Q. You talk a lot about representing Canada, and now as you keep rising up in the rankings, it seems that Canadian golf is getting more attention. As we look at the Olympics next year, International Crown, I know Canada is a little far out there, but what would it mean to you to be that face of Canadian golf, and how interested are you in helping to kind of raise the profile and help grow it all over for the country?
BROOKE HENDERSON: I've heard I was the face of Canadian golf since I was 14 years old, I think, when I was sitting in this chair three years ago. It's an unbelievable compliment, and I love it. But people always ask me how do you handle the pressure, and you know what, I'm not doing it for anybody else except for myself, and if I can represent my country and I'm proud to wear the Canadian leaf on my shirt every day, and I'm glad when they announce me off the tee, from Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada or just from Canada, I'm an extremely proud Canadian, and I think the more I can work and the harder I can pursue my dreams, I think the more -- not attention, but the more young people might want to start the game, and I think that's really important.

Q. What kind of goalie were you? Who did you pattern yourself after NHL-wise?
BROOKE HENDERSON: That's a good question. My dad used to play nets, and I think I took after him.

Q. I know you were in Evian previous to your win, and with your win you got into the CME Championship at the end of the year. What was you guys' thinking for taking membership immediately as opposed to next year where you could potentially have the whole year towards Rookie of the Year and maybe a lot of the year-end accolades?
BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, Rookie of the Year, and as you mentioned, other accolades are very important. However, when I had the opportunity to start living my dream today instead of five months from now, I'm definitely going to take it today because it's an opportunity that not a lot of people get. We thought about it hard with my team, IMG, and my family and friends close to me, and we've come to a decision that I can start living my dream today, and I can work hard to try and get into those Asia Swing events in just a couple weeks.

Q. Three years ago this was one of your first big tournament stops. What do you think about coming back here? What do you expect from the course?
BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, this was my first LPGA Tour event three years ago, and I didn't play as well as I knew I was capable of. I was mentioning earlier about that young 14-year-old that qualified yesterday. You've really got to take in the whole experience because I think this week three years ago really helped me get ready for the LPGA Tour, even way back then. I think this golf course, it's beautiful, and there's a lot of little things you've got to be able to do around here. You know, the back nine, it's pretty narrow, you've got it hit it straight and you've got to hit greens. The front nine, it's very slopey so you've got to watch the greens and you've got to be careful of the conditions out there.

Q. We know you've already captured your first LPGA win. What would it mean for you to come out here this week and to win the national championship, the Canadian Women's Open?
BROOKE HENDERSON: That would be amazing and definitely a goal of mine. I think it's possible. My game is in a great spot, and as long as I can stay focused and determined over the next couple days, because they have been pretty busy and pretty long back home in Canada, but I think if I can get a solid game plan together and go out there and play my game on Thursday, it could happen.

Q. Your dad was mentioning, talking the announcers on Sunday afternoon, and you were going really low, obviously, for the whole week, and he said, "Welcome to Brooksville." How often do you get to that point in your game?
BROOKE HENDERSON: You know, that's pretty cool. Last week was a special week. Everything was working, and I could have been a lot deeper than 21-under. I missed some short birdie putts. Even on Sunday I did. But I was just trying to push it as hard as I could and trying to get as low as I could so that nobody could catch me, and I was able to succeed in doing that. Like I said, it was a very special week, and I'm hoping I can have more of those in the future.

Q. How would you feel if Smiths Falls town council was to rename Smiths Falls Brooksville?
BROOKE HENDERSON: I don't think that's necessary. It would be cool, I'm not going to lie about that, but no, I think Smiths Falls is a good name.

THE MODERATOR: Brooke, thank you so very much. Best of luck this week. Congratulations on your LPGA Tour membership, and we look forward to many, many exciting victories and performances from you in the years to come.

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