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June 28, 2017

Brooke Henderson

Olympia Fields, Illinois

CHRISTINA LANCE: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Very excited to welcome you back to the media center at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, and hello to our friends on Facebook Live, as well.

We're here with world No. 12, Brooke Henderson, of Canada. Brooke is our defending Women's KPMG PGA Champion. She took that title last year at Sahalee with a birdie on the first playoff hole with Lydia Ko. She became the second youngest LPGA major winner at 18 years, nine months and two days. She has four LPGA wins. That includes two weeks ago at the 2017 Meijer LPGA Classic. Welcome back, Brooke. It's good to see you. Tell us how you're feeling as you go in to defend your first major title.

BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, I feel like my game is in a great place right now. I've been saying that all year, but then when I won Meijer, I think I kind of proved to some of the naysayers and proved to myself that I am in a great position, and you know, it always comes down to a few breaks and making a few putts to get the momentum in your way, and you know, hopefully this week I can start out fast on Thursday and get off to a good start and then keep the momentum throughout the weekend.

CHRISTINA LANCE: Thinking back to last year, to Sahalee, other than the win, which I'm sure was the big highlight of the week, what are some of your best memories of taking this title?

BROOKE HENDERSON: I love this championship. Any major championship is always incredible, but the atmosphere here is a little bit different than every other one. I got a sponsor's invite in 2015 to play in my first KPMG Women's PGA and I was able to finish T5 and I was in the lead right from the start, which was a lot of confidence for me, and it gave me a lot of excitement going into the weekend.

And then last year, of course, winning was amazing, and becoming the second youngest major winner and being up at the top and playing such an incredible golf course, and again, just feeling that atmosphere and winning. So I've always had a great feeling here, and I'm really looking forward to playing here at Olympia Fields where I played the U.S. Junior Girls I guess six years ago. I was looking at a picture yesterday and I was pretty skinny and pretty little, but a lot has changed since then, and it's just an incredible championship, and I'm just excited to get it started here tomorrow.

CHRISTINA LANCE: Looking back to last year, the hole-in-one had to be a great moment. Where is the car residing now?

BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, that is a great memory that I'll always have, and that's really what got my weekend started last year is on my fourth hole of the event, knocked in a 7-iron for a hole-in-one, my fourth ever, and turned around and it was the car hole. I told my sister it was hers, so of course she was very excited, and now it's back home in Smith Falls, Canada. But it was such an amazing event for me right from the start.

Q. You've obviously achieved so much at such a young age already, but what would you say are some of the key qualities that have helped make you so successful and would tell other aspiring LPGA Tour players?
BROOKE HENDERSON: You know, I think mentally I'm very strong, which has helped me out, especially on the tougher golf courses and in major championships. I think having my family supporting me a lot of the time is great, and that's really where a lot of my success comes from. My sister is my caddie and she's also my best friend. We travel together all over the world and hang out and have a lot of fun. You know, it just kind of gives me -- it kind of relaxes me a little bit on and off the course, and having my dad as my coach, and he's able to travel to probably about half the events, and he's here this week, as well, and having my mom, too. She's not really a golfer but No. 1 cheerleader and really helps out where she can. I think having that family support all the time has really made me a great person and a great golfer, as well.

You know, my strengths on the course, I like to hit the ball long and I like to hit my driver as much as I can, which I think here at Olympia Fields that sets up well for my game. If I can hit it straight and I can get it down the fairway, I think I'll take an advantage over the rest of the field.

Q. You mentioned this event is a little different than some of the other major championships or the other rounds you play. Could you expand on that a little bit?
BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, absolutely. KPMG Women's PGA, they do an incredible job of promoting women on and off the golf course. They give us the second largest purse here this week. We're on network television, playing some of the greatest golf courses around the U.S., Sahalee last year, Olympia Fields this year. And then also off the course, you know, there's a Women's Leadership Summit going on I think as we speak right now and all day. Condoleezza Rice was on the putting green yesterday morning and called me by name, and I never get that opportunity to meet such world-class people like that. And also I played in a pro-am with Bo Jackson and Greg Maddux. You're surrounded by amazing people and an amazing atmosphere here.

Q. Who hit the ball farther, Bo or Greg?
BROOKE HENDERSON: I'd like to say I took them both, but I think Greg hit it a little bit further.

Q. You mentioned your game being close for a while and finally coming together. What was it that kind of clicked for you at Meijer when you got the win, and what are you working on, if anything, coming into this week?
BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, you know, I showed up at Meijer on Thursday morning, and I felt like a lot of pressure was off, and I was just going to go out there and have some fun, and I was able to shoot 8-under and take the lead right from the start, and that was kind of momentum and the breaks that I was kind of looking for earlier in the season that I just didn't get.

And so you know, when I got the momentum and I felt that excitement of being in the lead again, having the TV cameras, having the fans cheering me on, you know, I wanted to make the most of it, and I kind of grinded a little bit throughout the weekend, but to come away and win with such great names on the top of that leaderboard, you know, gave me a lot of confidence, and especially coming into this week. I definitely feel like I belong and I'm excited to get that next win.

Q. What's your assessment of how the golf course is going to play, and do you have a score in mind that would be a good number to have Sunday afternoon?
BROOKE HENDERSON: This course is going to play really tough. You know, it challenges all parts of your game. Mentally it's going to be very tasking, especially if the wind keeps up like it is now. There's no doubt why they call it the windy city with all this wind the past few days. You know, every lie and every slope, you're going to have to think your way through this golf course.

You know, the rough is very penalizing as well as the first cut, and that's not really the case at most events, and the greens are very severe back to front, very slopey, and you can't be above the hole and expect to make birdie or even expect to make par sometimes. So you've got to really think your way through, and finally you need to execute, once you make a great decision. So hopefully that means I'm hitting a lot of fairways and keeping the ball below the hole on my second shots.

Q. After having such a great year last year, winning a major, getting to No. 2 in the world, when you finally won this year, did you feel a sense of relief like maybe more pressure had been building than you even realized?
BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, you know, winning, I was so excited, and to be able to hoist a trophy again is such an amazing feeling. To get it on Father's Day, such a special day, it really meant a lot. It was really special to me. It had only been a little over a year since I won, I guess, this championship and then it was a little bit less than a year since I won Portland, but it was just that feeling of having it in my hands again and knowing that I had beaten all these incredible players, the best in the world. It was a great feeling, and like I said, I'm really excited to do it again, and I think it was -- I really needed that win. You know, it gave me that confidence that maybe I was lacking a few weeks prior.

Q. Do you have a game plan for each hole before you go out there each day or just take it as it comes?
BROOKE HENDERSON: Definitely you need to have a strategy, and that's what I've been really working hard on over the last three days, to get a strategy for each hole. But you really got to -- you've got to wait and see, too. You've got to have a strategy and get ready to go, but then everything can change if the wind switches directions or it rains a lot the night before, greens become a lot softer. So you've got to be able to go with the elements and go with the factors, but you also have to have a strategy that if everything is perfect, you know you can go low and shoot a good number.

Q. And when you were giving your introductory comments, you said something about winning proving the naysayers wrong. Who were the naysayers?
BROOKE HENDERSON: I don't know, I got a lot of questions from the media and just wondering what was wrong with me or my game when I wasn't getting top 10s like I did last year, and there was a lot of comparison to my season in I guess 2016. But you know, I have a lot of supporters, as well, and there's always going to be people that don't support you 100 percent, but that's golf, that's sports and that's life, and to get that win was really exciting and gives me that extra boost of momentum and confidence moving forward.

Q. So far in your young career you've got four LPGA Tour wins and including your Symetra Tour win, all of your wins have been in summer months and kind of like northern states. Is there anything about playing in the summer where you just hone in and kind of attack more if it's like based on your biorhythm or anything else?
BROOKE HENDERSON: You know, I heard a really interesting stat when I won Meijer, that was my 15th start from the start of the season, and winning the KPMG last year was my 15th start into the season, which was really neat. I didn't know that until after I won, but maybe there is something to that. I definitely think that the courses that I've won on so far really suit my game, very tree-lined, got to hit it straight, got to hit it long, and you know, bottom line, you need to make putts at the end of the day. But all my wins have kind of come on those types of golf courses, so hopefully this week will play into that, too.

CHRISTINA LANCE: Before you came in here, I saw you signing your glass emoji out front. Tell us about Monday and what that was experience was like in the skills challenge with Phil Mickelson.

BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, it was an amazing opportunity and an incredible experience, getting to meet Phil Mickelson, who I love to watch on TV and love to watch how he interacts with fans and to meet him personally and talk to him a little bit and then also watch him hit one foot in front of me was really, really cool. I almost had him, too. I got down to the last, and I accidentally hit my own painted glass instead of his, unfortunately. But no, it was a lot of fun. Stacy and Lydia were there, too, and it was a great way to promote this event this week, and like I said, just getting to meet him was a really amazing opportunity.

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