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Fighting putter and missing family, Brooke Henderson looks to regain confidence at ANA

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Brooke Henderson has all the time thought-about herself a assured individual. It was that self-assurance that propelled her to the LPGA Tour as a 17-year-old and made her a serious champion a 12 months later. But her battle to return to the shape that earned such early success has chipped away at that conviction.

“There’s times I’ve felt really great and been playing well and other times,” Henderson says as she begins trailing off, “which is golf, right? It’s so up-and-down. And especially mentally, it’s so demanding.”

Henderson arrives at the ANA Inspiration this week and not using a win on tour since 2019, 5 years faraway from her lone main victory at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Throughout her profession, the 23-year-old has been vocal about her targets every season. And as she received 12 months after 12 months, these targets grew. They quickly included conserving her multi-win streak alive, which she did for 4 consecutive years. Then, in 2020, Henderson went with out an LPGA for the primary time in her profession.

But 2020 was not a traditional 12 months.

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Henderson, who averaged almost 30 begins from 2016-19, competed in simply 10 occasions final season. And, her father, Dave, who can be her coach, hasn’t been at a event along with his daughter in additional than a 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic. He’s again house in Canada together with her mom, Darlene, who additionally hasn’t been ready to journey. The final occasion they spent on web site collectively was in January 2020.

“He’s always there, like virtually, always helping us out and sending us his notes that he has on every course and FaceTiming,” Henderson mentioned. “Definitely miss having my mom and him out here, to show support and helping out on the course.”

It’s a troublesome comfort in a pandemic, having to depend on video calls and texts to fill the void of having the ability to see pals and household for months at a time. And as so many have discovered during the last 12 months, nothing can change in-person, human contact. For Brooke, whose father arguably is aware of her sport higher than anybody, she should use digital communication to type by means of her placing woes and the psychological challenges which have come throughout this making an attempt time. While Brooke’s sister and caddie, Brittany, has “really stepped up,” it’s not sufficient to fill the void left by her father’s absence, and that’s mirrored in her efficiency over this previous 12 months.

“Just virtually he’s working on the mental side of it, which I think is probably the most important part,” Brooke mentioned about working together with her father remotely. “And then my sister, she caddies for me and also helps a lot with the coaching aspect, too.”

When Henderson received twice in 2019, she ranked thirty fourth in placing common at 29.63. In 2020, she dropped to No. 104 at 30.51. The household has labored collectively on a number of completely different placing strategies, methods to learn the greens and then discovering a steadiness that works nicely for each sisters. At final week’s Kia Classic, Henderson employed a brand new, left-hand-low grip when placing from inside 10 ft, which lifted her to a second top-10 end in 2021.

“That was a big change for me,” Henderson mentioned in regards to the new grip. “But I feel really comfortable with it and I think I’ll keep it going.”

Six months in the past, Henderson completed runner up to Mirim Lee at the ANA Inspiration. She missed an 8-footer for birdie on the primary additional gap to prolong the playoff. This week, she’ll take that have, together with the work she’s put in, and huddle collectively together with her sister and their father on FaceTime. As a household, they’ll carve out a plan to assist Brooke navigate Mission Hills. Then, comes the true check – Brooke’s capability to belief and imagine in herself to execute it.

“It’s been successful for a really long time, and sometimes you see great results and sometimes not as good as you would like,” Henderson mentioned about their work. “[I’m] just trying to believe in myself a little bit more, trust in the process of what we are doing and just trying to enjoy it.”

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