It was a tough finish for Brooke Henderson today. After a birdie on the 14th hole, the tournament looked like it was hers to win. Back-to-back bogeys on the next two holes, and missing makeable birdie putts on the two finishing par-fives, would leave her one stroke out of a playoff. However, considering her best finish here previously was 38th, a third place finish is still a big step in the right direction.

I was fortunate enough to follow Brooke from inside the ropes for the better part of her final round. Here’s how it looked through my eyes:

IMG_0406After birdies on three of her first six holes, Brooke made it to the par-3 eighth at 14-under, and holding a two-stroke lead. She would walk off with a par, and the lead remained two.

After a good tee-shot on nine, this was her approach:

Pretty, pretty good. 

It left her with this short birdie putt to extend the lead:

IMG_0411.jpgThat look says it all.

Brooke made the turn at 14-under, and with a number of players hot on her heels, Brooke’s lead was down to one.

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Want an idea of how hot it was out there today? When’s the last time you saw a Canadian do this for shade?

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After pars on 10 through 12, Brooke’s lead was no longer.

Brooke - leaderboard behind 12

Sensing things slowly slipping away, she crushed this drive on 13:

Not much of a better sound than that, is there?

Her approach was solid too. Leaving her this for birdie:

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So close. 

Her sequence of good swings continued on the 14th though; the “party hole”

Tee shot:

And the putt. How about this roar:

Birdie! Back in the lead alone, at 15-under.

The 15th hole, however, wouldn’t be so kind.

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Her approach was quite nice, but it bounced over the green, which led to bogey. That would put her back in a tie for the lead at 14-under.

After a good drive on 16 went just through the fairway, here was her approach:

A poor chip later, and she faced this for par, to remain in a tie for the lead:

Tough bogey. At this point she was one back of the leaders, but still had two par-fives remaining. With one player already in the clubhouse at 14-under, and Brittany Lincicome still on the course at -14, the task at hand was clear.

Two good pokes down the 17th, and she needed to get up and down from this bunker to make birdie.

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Just couldn’t get it to drop.

One more chance.

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Her 3-wood split the fairway, resulting in another 3-wood to just in front of the green. Up-and-down for a birdie and a playoff, hole it for the win, or miss out completely.

The pitch:

And the putt:

Just wasn’t her day.

In true Canadian fashion, and really, a testament to the person Brooke is, she stuck around to sign every single autograph that fans requested, and met with the media.

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She’s in the blue, just left of the “Players Only” sign.

And then, finally, it was time to see her family and friends. In one of the more touching moments I’ve witnessed on a golf course, Alena Sharp, fellow Canadian and LPGA golfer, plus friend and mentor to Brooke, had a tearful embrace that showed their true friendship.

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Brooke and Alena hugging

Total class acts, all the way around. Obviously not the finish Brooke would have liked, but that support system will only make her better. Here’s hoping she can use this to fuel her into winning her second major, two weeks from now, at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

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