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August 31, 2016

Brooke Henderson

Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

THE MODERATOR: I think everyone in here knows who's sitting right in front of you. This is Brooke Henderson. Welcome to the Manulife LPGA Classic media room. She is the No. 3 player in the world, two-time winner this year and major champion, along with 11 top 10s. Brooke, welcome home-ish. Four hours and some change to Smiths Falls. What is it like to be back around here?

BROOKE HENDERSON: It's so exciting to be back here really close to home. Even last week, in Calgary, the crowds were amazing, the best I've ever played in front of. The support after I finished my rounds, it was this huge, huge line of autographs and photos. I took the time to see everybody and it was really, really cool.

This week a little bit closer to home, like you say, it's like four or five hours from Smiths Falls. Hoping some family and friends will make it up to the weekend. I'm excited to be back in this area and back home in Canada.

Q. The crowds last week were huge and probably going to be huge this week. For just an average person, what is it like having that kind of support out there playing your sport in front of everyone?
BROOKE HENDERSON: It was so much fun. I love playing in front of big crowds, especially when they are in my favor. Everybody was out there cheering for me. I just kind of built off their energy. I wasn't playing my best, but I felt their support, I felt their positive vibe. I felt that and I kind of ran off with that. On Thursday or Friday, I guess, I was minus 6 at one point, and that was all due to the crowds. I started to feel good about my game again. I started to find my groove, kind of. It was all because of the people there supporting me.

At one point during the week, I turned to Brit and I said, Imagine if I was leading. I was quite a few shots back from the lead, but still the crowd was all there.

Q. How do you feel about this course in particular?
BROOKE HENDERSON: I didn't play my best here last year. There was a lot of things going on for me. It was kind of a tougher week, but I still shot 3-under and ended up missing the cut by one just because the cut was extremely low.

But coming back this year, I got to see nine holes of the course yesterday. I really like it and I'll be more aggressive than I was last year and chase after some more birdies and hopefully get some low scores.

Q. One other thing, I see you've been rocking some new shoes recently. Tell me about your deal as a Skechers ambassador now.
BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, I'm very excited to be with Skechers. They have Matt Kuchar and (indiscernible) right now as ambassadors, and I think it's really fun to be apart of. Right away, when I put them on, I loved them and I told Kevin that I was never going to take them off. So I think it was a good sign right away and my whole family loves them as well.

Q. It's been a long season, I'm just wondering how are you staying fit and motivated?
BROOKE HENDERSON: You know, it's been a long season, I guess 23 events or 24 events. But there's still lots of season left and lots of opportunities where I can get more top 10s, I can possibly win another event which is really exciting for me. Especially being back home this week, it gives me that little bit of extra motivation to play well, to be at the top of the leaderboard.

I kind of had some rough weeks leading up to the Olympics where my game wasn't quite where I wanted it to be. When I had those two weeks off to play the Olympics, I tried to work really hard again.

Then at the Olympics and last week in Calgary, I started to see my name back up there atop the leaderboard. It kind of gives me chills every time, but I love it and it kind of keeps me going.

Q. You are saying you were getting a lot of support, is it more difficult because you have got a lot of people to sign autographs for, the media wants to talk to you, the sponsors want to tug at your sleeve as well. Have you been able to handle that or has it affected your game at all?
BROOKE HENDERSON: They are definitely crazy weeks for me, they are very busy. Like I said, the fans and the media, they are really important to me and I want to give them as much attention as I can. At the same time, I have to conserve my energy. At the end of the day, if I don't play well that week, nobody cares about me anyway. I kind of have to balance that, too. That has been a work in progress, I guess. I think I'm doing a pretty good job and my management group is doing a pretty good job as well, my family, too. We're just figuring it out as we go.

Definitely these are two very important weeks. We want to give the best appearance that we can.

Q. Your Olympics experience, I'm sure, was great. Did you stay in the Olympics Village? Did you have a chance to mingle with other Canadian athletes while you were there?
BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, we stayed right in the Olympic Village. There was one building with 18 floors of Canadians, which was really, really cool. Brit and I don't really go out and we also had a job to do that week. We weren't mingling too much with other athletes, but we saw a lot of the top level ones. In our apartment or in our room we had seven other roommates, all Canadian, so we learned about their sports and got to know them a little bit, which was really cool. Built some friendships there.

Like I said, we had a job to do. We're trying to go down there to stand on that podium or to have a really good finish for Canada. We were very focused that week. We did get to see Penny Oleksiak in the hallway. We saw Andre and (indiscernible) get their medals one night. We went to athletics, so we saw the finals of some races, high jump, javelin and saw them get their medals. I saw Simone Biles walk by me. We were about an inch away from each other. She was all dressed up, ready to go to her competition.

There was a lot of highlights that week. Just seeing 10,000 athletes all in one place, training and preparing for their events. When they were relaxing and their events were over, some partying, we saw all of it. It was a really cool experience.

Q. When athletes come up to you and say, I've always wanted to meet Brook Henderson -- you are fairly well known in the sports world, did anyone come up to you?
BROOKE HENDERSON: I had a couple. Not so much the athletes, more of like support staff and things. No, it was really, really cool. I saw Rickie Fowler and he said hi. It was just a cool experience overall. I think for all the athletes to come together like that, it's something that you never see, I guess only every three years or every four years. So it was very amazing.

Q. There's going to be a celebration for you back in Smiths Falls this week or next, is that going to be motivating for you?
BROOKE HENDERSON: You know, it's always really exciting when people from back home or people from anywhere celebrate the success that I've had and that my family has had. So I think it will be a really cool day. I hear that all the kids are getting out of school for it. I'm sure there will be a pretty big crowd. To see young children in particular be inspired is really cool to me. There's a lot of people when I was growing up that inspired me. If I can give back to them, that's really cool. I hear some of their ideas and it sounds pretty fun. So hopefully it will go over well and it's always nice to feel that support to close to home.

Q. Just one more, you and Alena have obviously become pretty good friends this year and you got to be Olympians together. She's had our best season so far on the Tour, what has been it like to watch her play so well this year?
BROOKE HENDERSON: It's incredible. Like you said, it's her best season so far. This year finished fourth last week, which is her best finish ever, I belive, on the LPGA. To have it at home in Canada, I watched her face on the 18th hole when she finished and you could tell it meant a lot to her. She couldn't believe it was still happening. She was still so focused and in the zone. It's very cool. Like you said, we've become really good friends, especially over the last 18 months and again this year. We play a lot of practice rounds together. We always seal to catch up at some point during the week. And just really, really good friends. I'm glad to see her doing well and hopefully it will continue.

Q. Just wanted to double back on a little bit on the question about your schedule. What have you learned this year about your schedule and your practicing and even your media time that may prompt you to adjust your schedule next year? Do you think you will play as many events next year?
BROOKE HENDERSON: We're still working through and getting ready for our schedule next year. I think it was awesome this year that I was able to play as many events as I have so far and get to know the golf courses a little bit. Lots of them I was playing for the first time. Just getting to know what airports to fly into, what hotels to stay in in that area, getting to know what courses fit my game the best, it was a learning experience all year. But I think it was -- I think my game improved. Every single week I learned more about myself, how we reacted when maybe I was a little bit tired or feeling more pressure that week. I learned a lot about my myself every single week. My game has improved because of that. So it's been a really fun year so far. I got to travel to so many new places, got to see so many amazing things and got to meet a lot of really cool people.

So I think going to next year, maybe I'll -- I won't play as many events, but I'll definitely be careful in the ones that I'm picking and choosing. Right now I might play all the tournaments on the schedule. It just depends on how my body is feeling and how everything is going, going into that week.

Q. What do you like most about playing in this area? What do you like most about playing at this course? How much fun do you think you will have out there in terms of energy and getting the crowd going this week? Last year it was wild when you teed off at the 10th, and it's going to be bigger and better this year given the success you've had?
BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, in Calgary last week, the crowds were incredible. Hopefully this week being closer to home, being from the home province, hopefully that crowd continues to grow.

Like you said, some of the tee shots I hit last year surrounding the tee box, even surrounding the greens were incredible. I felt that support, I felt that positive energy. It's something that I really like to go off positive vibes, positive energy in my own game. When I feel it from the crowd too, it kind of gives me that extra.

My win this year, there was a lot of Canadian support and I felt that the whole way around. It kind of helped me get across the line and helped me play well in that playoff and get my first major win. So hopefully this week I'll get my first victory back home in Canada.

Q. You mentioned before that you are going to be a little more aggressive this year, how are you going to approach Whistle Bear?
BROOKE HENDERSON: The scores have been very low, especially last year the scores were -- people were making a lot of birdies, hitting a lot of fairways and greens. It's a little bit generous off the tee. Tee shots are always important. If I can get it down there a long way, it will definitely help with the push off to the green. People were throwing it right at the pins. People were making putts. So hopefully I'll take that same strategy going to this year.

Last year when I played the practice rounds, the course played really long and really firm. Then when the tournament actually started, it was a lot shorter and the greens were a lot softer. So my strategy wasn't really set for the course the way it was prepared. So this year I'm keeping that in mind. And like I said, any course if you hit fairways and greens, you are going to have a good week. Hopefully my ball striking will be pretty solid and I'll be more aggressive towards the pins so I can get it in.

Q. How does it feel that you are inspiring young girls to play?
BROOKE HENDERSON: I'd like to think that I'm helping to grow the game, especially in Canada. When I see little girls and little boys talk to me and want autographs, and say you are my favorite, that is pretty cool. Even like you said, any woman, any person, it doesn't matter to me, I think golf is an incredible game. I started playing when I was three years old. My great grandmother stopped playing in her 90s. It's kind of a game that you can play lifelong and whether you turn pro, like I did, or get a scholarship like my sister did or you just play at a high level and make some friends, maybe it's just you go out every weekend and play with your buddies and maybe some money, it doesn't matter.

It's just such a great game, teaches so many great lessons in life. Hopefully by me playing and watching the other amazing women here on the LPGA Tour somebody else will pick up the game of golf. I enjoy all the great things that come along with it.

THE MODERATOR: Good luck today and the rest of the week.


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