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March 29, 2016

Brooke Henderson

Rancho Mirage, California

KRAIG KANN: Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome into the media center here at the ANA Inspiration. It's a great pleasure to welcome this, we're going to call her young, rising star, 18 years old. We welcome in the number 7 ranked player in the world, brook Henderson. First off, congratulations on all you've accomplished, and I say 7th ranked player in the world. What goes through your mind when you hear that?

BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, it's kind of surreal. A couple years ago I was ranked way over 200 and now I have it down to No. 7, which is really cool. It's definitely a big goal of mine to continue to improve every single week and move that ranking up closer to the No. 1 spot.

KRAIG KANN: So driving in here to Mission Hills, and a lot of players talk about that, what's that feeling like to drive down there, see the palm trees, the blue of the clubhouse?

BROOKE HENDERSON: It's amazing, once you drive through the gate and everything kind of opens up and you realize you're here, you came off Dinah Shore Drive and you're here at Mission Hills Golf Country Club where so much history has taken place, and I'm lucky enough I was able to play here two years ago as an amateur. I have so many great memories from that week, and I'm hoping to make some more and hopefully more memorable ones this week.

Q. You just said lucky, so I'm going to follow that up. Are you feeling lucky right now or are you just feeling really good?
BROOKE HENDERSON: A little bit of both. Definitely confidence has really built up in the last few weeks, especially in the last year being able to compete on the LPGA Tour every week and contend for championships. I still have a long way to go and a lot -- every week I'm trying to be that little bit better and hopefully move up my world ranking and move up every week on the leaderboard and hopefully win some more.

KRAIG KANN: Couple more questions for me. One LPGA victory that came as a non-member. Did that change you at all? What did it do for you specifically?

BROOKE HENDERSON: I think the biggest thing was just confidence. Last year I was working really hard to get my Tour card for 2016, and to do that I was either going to finish in the top 40 on the money, which was a big goal because I was only going to play in 10 or 11 LPGA events, or win an event which always is a huge goal but you never really can expect it. Or to finish or to win three Symetra Tour events, which I was a Symetra Tour member in the middle of the summer. So couple different ways to get my Tour card.

But to get the win and get my first LPGA Tour win, get my Tour card, it was really a dream come true. It was like the perfect week. Now I'm just trying to recreate that moment every time out.

KRAIG KANN: So what is it like to be that Canadian player that everybody follows and there are media articles everywhere? Do we even comprehend what that might be like?

BROOKE HENDERSON: The Canadian support is unbelievable. When I go home and even every week out on Tour I see big Canadian flags, I see the support all around me, and it's awesome. But I'm building fans in all different countries and including the U.S.

People come up to me and it's really, really an incredible experience. I'm still looking up to some girls out here on Tour like Juli Inkster and things like that, and now people want my autograph and they want my picture with them. It's really a dream.

KRAIG KANN: Sounds like a dream.

Q. A lot of people kind of talk about putting up with the celebrity side of things, and you clearly have learned already how to embrace that. Why is that important? How do you view the whole thing, the off-the-course stuff?
BROOKE HENDERSON: I love it. If you get attention it's either you're doing something really right or you're doing something really wrong. At this point I think I'm doing things pretty well. It's definitely a learning curve and trying to manage time and media requests and things like that. But it's all good. I'm enjoying it so far.

Q. How do you describe sort of fame in Canada? Is it the same as here? I don't know how you could describe it because you're not experiencing it on the same level here, but is it you can't go to the store? Is it that kind of thing?
BROOKE HENDERSON: I think every time I finish well or every time I have a good week more attention is definitely brought to me. I'm not being bombarded or anything like that, but people definitely know who I am and will want a picture and autograph and things like that.

KRAIG KANN: Was that a goal? Do you kind of -- I don't want to say you thrive on it, but did you hope for that?

BROOKE HENDERSON: It's definitely exciting, and the more of it is better, but it wasn't really a goal of mine. It just kind of comes with it.

KRAIG KANN: Well, you said the better you've played, the more it happens. Five Top 10 finishes in six starts in 2016, that seems like it will start happening a little bit more.

BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, I hope so. It's really been an awesome start, and I'm just looking forward to this week and the weeks to come.

Q. How important has it been to have your sister out here with you the last couple years?
BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, I love it. She's my best friend, my sister, my caddie. And every day, every week we have so much fun together on and off the course. To be able to share this experience with her is really, really cool. Not too many people can have someone like that on their bag and also travel with them and just be with them all the time. So I'm very grateful to have her there.

KRAIG KANN: Do you spend more time with her? In other words, do you have a bunch of friends out here that the two of you spend time with or are you guys pretty isolated and do your own family type of thing?

BROOKE HENDERSON: Every week we're building friendships everywhere and relationships with other players and other caddies. It's really a lot of fun. We've kind of definitely have very strong family values and very strong within our family. We've been able to make friendships with almost every player out here, which is awesome.

Q. You played here before but you were an amateur. This is your first start here as a pro. Is the experience much different? Were you in more awe two years ago and less now?
BROOKE HENDERSON: I think coming into this week I kind of knew more what the atmosphere was like. Kind of knew what more to expect, which I think has really helped. My confidence level is definitely up a little bit from being the No. 6 ranked amateur to the No. 7 ranked pro in the world. It's definitely a little bit of a difference.

But those memories that I made two years ago have really prepared me for this week. I was so excited to get here. It's been something that I've been really looking forward to over the last couple months, even, to get here to Dinah Shore and get to play this course.

Q. Clearly, your expectations would be this week to potentially win the golf tournament. What were your expectations two years ago when you were here?
BROOKE HENDERSON: Two years ago I think it was maybe my third or fourth LPGA event, so making the cut was huge.

Q. You did that.
BROOKE HENDERSON: I did that. Yeah, I shot 77 the first day and was really kicking myself and was able to come back with the 67 the next day and make the cut and climb up the leaderboard quite a bit. So that was definitely a good experience, and knowing that I can come back after disappointing round.

KRAIG KANN: You finished tied for 26th in that appearance.

Q. Just looking at the stats, your scoring average on the weekend is about two shots better than it is Thursday, Friday. Any thoughts on how maybe you can get yourself off to a little quicker start in events?
BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, that's definitely my goal over the next couple weeks is to get off to faster starts on Thursday, Friday, and hopefully see my name at the top of the leaderboard for more than just two days on the weekend. Last week I was kind of out of it. T30 going into Sunday and then was able to shoot. I had a better round and shot up the leaderboard to T10. So I think the faster starts and hopefully just continuing to be better on the weekend.

Q. Just to follow, do you think a lot of people think this course sets up really, really well for you? Just a thought on how it might play to your strengths this week?
BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, I think hitting fairways is definitely key. I'm normally a pretty straight driver of the ball which I think will be helpful. You've just really got to play smart here. There are a lot of holes that can jump up and bite you or you can make birdies if you're playing well and hitting it to the right spots.

KRAIG KANN: Want to get back to something you kind of alluded to when we were talking about the pressure potentially of representing your country. Now the Olympics are coming up. We had a press conference earlier with a couple of players and Missy Franklin's here and there are other Olympic athletes as part of the ANA Inspiration. How big will that be for you? How much do you allow yourself to think that far forward to potentially playing in the Olympic games?

BROOKE HENDERSON: The Olympic games are extremely exciting. Every week I get to represent my country and wear the leaf on my shoulder, and as you mentioned, the Canadian fans and fans from all over the world. Then to go on the big stage of the Olympics with all the other athletes and from many countries and compete against the girls that I compete against every week, but it's just a different stage. I'm really excited for it. It will kind of be the ideal scenario to bring home gold to the Canadian Open the week after. So that's kind of what I'm aiming for.

KRAIG KANN: That could be big.

BROOKE HENDERSON: That could be really big. So hopefully that happens.

Q. We know you grew up playing hockey and playing goalie. Looking at the two loves it doesn't seem there are many similarities between the two. How do the personalities of those two sports, goalie and golfer, kind of mesh for you?
BROOKE HENDERSON: There's actually quite a few similarities between the two. I was a goalie, so there's a lot of pressure back in nets. You're either the hero or you're not for your team every time out. It built a lot of strength, lower body strength in particular, carrying around those big pads and skating with the other forwards in practice and things like that. It's really helped out my game a lot.

As I mentioned, the pressure the strength, and just overall, golf is very much an individual sport where hockey is kind of a team idea, but now I am on Tour and have a solid team around me with my dad and my coach, and my mom's been able to travel a little bit too. And having my sister on the bag where it's kind of team work every single day, and I learned a lot of that from hockey.

Q. Do you still get to skate at all? Did you play with boys growing up?
BROOKE HENDERSON: No, hockey is huge, so there's a lot of girls teams. I come from a town of 9,000 people and there's three hockey rinks, so it's really kind of a big deal back home. I don't get to skate very much. I think the last time was in 2014. So it's been a while.

KRAIG KANN: Would you outskate almost any player on the LPGA speedwise? Are you quick even though you were a goalie?

BROOKE HENDERSON: I don't know about that. I was pretty good a couple years ago, but I don't know about now.

KRAIG KANN: Do you think being a goalie, actually, wingers would take shots on a goalie, right? And you've seen hockey players, professionals try to play golf. They have a hockey swing at times, right? That probably helped you not being a winger or a center.

BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, a little bit. I mean, I still shot a little bit in nets, and I felt a lot of strength in my arms too because I had a blocker and trapper where you couldn't grip the stick very well and the stick's a lot heavier than a forward. So the opposite way of the way I swing, but I think it helped with coordination.

KRAIG KANN: I want to ask you about preparation. Not about a major championship, but over the last few years we've had players like Lexi Thompson, we've had players like Lydia Ko come up here and be incredibly poised with this, with this whole process. You're sitting here right now, and I'm sitting across from you, basically wowed by the composure that you have. Did you prepare yourself in any way for this? Forget the crush of crowds and that sort of thing, but this type of thing?

BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, a little bit. If you play well and you get to the big stage, you hope to have things like this come along with it. I think being in a top amateur, top junior, you kind of get ready with the media, and then the better you play, the more practice you get. I'm really enjoying it up here, and hopefully I'll be up here for the next four days.

KRAIG KANN: Have you allowed yourself, we've talked about the Olympics and thinking forward, you're seeing a few of the jumps. The leaps into Poppie's Pond over the years. I'm sure you've probably got a robe at home. Have you thought about that robe and have you thought about what type of a leap you might make?

BROOKE HENDERSON: Definitely crossed my mind.


BROOKE HENDERSON: It has for sure. I think that's everybody's goal and dream once they've seen Poppie's Pond in real life and even on TV. I know growing up as a little girl it was one of my favorite tournaments, so hopefully some day I'll make that leap.

KRAIG KANN: Best of luck to you this week. Thank you for coming in.

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