News & ToursJune 12, 2015

The beef Brooke Henderson's dad has with the LPGA Tour

HARRISON, N.Y. -- As frequently happens in golf, almost all of those who think the LPGA should reverse course and immediately grant 17-year-old Canadian Brooke Henderson an age-limit exemption don't understand the rules. That included Brooke's father, Bruce.

Mr. Henderson let his frustration be heard after his daughter shot a six-under-par 67 Thursday at Westchester C.C. to be one stroke off the lead after the first round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, saying she was running out of sponsor's exemptions (non-members are limited to six) after turning pro at the end of 2014 and should be made a member right now given her play in those events in 2015.

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"We hope [LPGA commissioner] Mike Whan meets with the committee and that there is a democratic process," Bruce Henderson said. "Brooke is good for golf, she's good for revenue, she brings young people into the game."

Where Henderson's request falls short is that even if Whan granted her an age exemption, that only makes her eligible to be a member. She would still have to earn her card, and there are three ways to do that:

  1. Win an LPGA event.

2) Finish in the top 40 on the final LPGA money list.

3) Go to LPGA Qualifying school at the end of the year and earn a card there.

If Whan had granted Henderson an age exemption when she applied last year, it would have only made her eligible to TRY to be a member at Q school. Remember, Michelle Wie, for all her early success, still had to earn her card at Q school.

Going into the KPMG, which Henderson got into with her penultimate sponsor's exemption, Henderson had earned $184,745. That would put her No. 33 on the money list if she was a member. She will likely use her last sponsor's exemption in the Canadian Pacific Women's Open in August.

Henderson will also play in the U.S. Women's Open, having qualified off her T-10 finish last year at Pinehurst as an amateur. Neither that, or the Ricoh Women's British Open would count as one of her sponsor's exemptions.

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She can also play her way into LPGA events by Monday qualifying, as she did earlier this year in Texas.

While the rules for earning a tour card are pretty clear, one thing the LPGA may want to revisit is the fact that unlike members, non-LPGA members who finish in the top-10 in an event don't get an automatic spot into the next tournament. If that rule were different, Henderson would have qualified for Texas with her top-10 at Swinging Skirts.

Other than that, the process for membership seems to be sensible -- and fair.

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