REGINA — Brooke Henderson was reminded all week of what was at stake at the CP Women's Open.
She knew about the 45-year Canadian victory drought at the tournament, the pressure of playing on home soil, the list of the LPGA Tour's finest players who were nipping at her heels.
Henderson wasn't fazed by any of it. She was aggressive from the start of Sunday's final round and played like someone on the chase instead of in the lead.
It was a plan that worked to perfection at the Wascana Country Club as Henderson rolled to a four-shot victory over American Angel Yin.
"This was like the first time ever that I've played my absolute best in front of the hometown crowd and on home soil," Henderson said. "It's just a great learning experience, and it has a really happy ending."
A run of four straight birdies on the back nine set up a nice cushion for Henderson, who could enjoy the walk up No. 18 as the crowd roared her arrival.
After a monster drive, her 69-yard approach shot landed on the green and rolled right up near the hole. She finished her 7-under-par 65 in style by hitting hit the three-foot birdie putt to send the packed gallery into a tizzy.
"I said to Brooke yesterday, I said 'Show me those goalie eyes,'" said Canadian Golf Hall of Famer Lorie Kane. "I think as Canadians we know what that means. She stood up to the challenge and here we are."
Henderson raised her arms in the air in victory and hugged her sister Brittany, who was on her bag all week. Their ecstatic father, Dave, ran on to the green and doused them in champagne.
The crowd started belting O Canada as Henderson was mobbed by friends, family and other players.
"Ten minutes from when I hit my second shot in on 18 to when I made that putt and when the celebrations all happened, those are the things that I'll remember forever," Henderson said.
Henderson shot 66 on the first two days and had a 70 on Saturday, finishing with an overall total of 21-under 267. Yin had a 68 and American Jennifer Song (67) was six shots off the lead at 15 under.
Australians Minjee Lee (68) and Su Oh (69) were seven strokes off the pace in a fourth-place tie with South Korea's Amy Yang (68) and American Austin Ernst (69).
Henderson earned US$337,500 of the $2.25-million purse for her second victory of the season. It was her seventh career LPGA Tour win, moving her one behind Sandra Post's record for all-time victories by a Canadian.
"I definitely feel like it was meant to be this week," Henderson said. "Everything just kind of seemed to fall my way."
Jocelyne Bourassa was the last Canadian to win this tournament, taking the 1973 event — then called La Canadienne — at Montreal.
Henderson, who won last April in Hawaii, has been in form over the last two months. She entered this event with three top-10 finishes over her last five starts.
She was blasting the ball off the tee all week and her short game — which can be inconsistent at times — was also an asset. Henderson averaged 286 yards with her driver and led all players with 28 birdies.
Starting the day with a one-shot lead, Henderson was aggressive but smart on an overcast, chilly morning.
Displaying a steely focus and no sign of nerves, she found the fairway with her opening drive and cleared a greenside bunker with her second shot, sticking the ball 12 feet from the pin.
The 20-year-old from Smiths Falls, Ont., sank the birdie putt for a two-shot lead.
"I feel like it kind of set the tone for the whole day," Henderson said.
She gave the stroke back on the second hole after her drive found the rough. A line of fairway-hugging trees forced her to chip out on the fairway and Henderson would settle for bogey.
Back-to-back pars followed, allowing Oh to briefly pull even with the Canadian. However, Oh missed a 10-foot par putt on the fifth hole and Henderson drained a 25-footer for birdie to regain the lead.
After a birdie-bogey run, Henderson showed her form on the par-3, 206-yard eighth hole. With a challenging pin placement, she elevated her tee shot perfectly to clear a greenside ridge and bunker to leave herself an 18-foot putt.
She hit the birdie to move to 16-under for a three-shot lead on Oh and defending champion Sung Hyun Park of South Korea.
Henderson was showing she was playing to win and not to just hang on.
A steady rain started to fall as the last few groups made the turn. Some players made strong runs on the back nine but there was too much ground to make up.
Yin hovered a few shots back but Henderson wouldn't budge. When the pressure was at its highest, the Canadian seemed to make almost every shot look easy.
The greens softened up a touch and Henderson was going for the pins. Approach shots were usually in tight and the putter was working.
Yin rolled in her third straight birdie on No. 15, and Henderson answered by knocking in her fourth birdie putt in a row to keep her three-shot lead.
She maintained that edge through the 17th hole, allowing her to fully enjoy the final-hole leadup to the championship moment she'd been thinking about for years.
"This one (is) probably the trophy I've wanted the most," Henderson said. "So to finally be able to hold it, I learned that it's really heavy, but it's just amazing."
Henderson has managed to maintain a world ranking position of No. 14 even though it has been a challenging season at times. She had some middling results last spring and missed a few cuts.
In addition, both of Henderson's grandfathers died this year. She was thinking about them throughout the tournament.
"They were both great supporters and so I mean I think it's just constantly there and knowing that they're cheering me on," she said, fighting back tears.
Park (71), who finished at 13 under, will retain her No. 1 position in the world rankings. She was tied with three-time CP Women's Open champion Lydia Ko (69) and several others.
American Mo Martin was another shot back at 12 under after firing a course-record 62. Hamilton's Alena Sharp (71) was at 6 under, two shots ahead of Quebec City's Anne-Catherine Tanguay (73).
The 2019 CP Women's Open will be held at the Magna Golf Club in Aurora, Ont.
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