AP – Brooke Henderson closed with a 7-under 64 a year ago in the ShopRite LPGA Classic and finished second.
The 24-year-old Canadian matched the final-round performance in the event this year, and still had work to do. This time she got the job done on Sunday after overcoming a four-shot deficit.
Henderson eagled the first playoff hole to beat Lindsey Weaver-Wright for her 11th tour victory and first this year.
“I just was trying to go low and see what happens,” Henderson said. “I didn’t think – I mean, I thought the victory was a possibility, but there are a lot of really talented players ahead of me and I think I was four shots back starting the day. I knew it was going to take a little bit of magic, and I’m just really happy that I’m sitting here next to the trophy.”
The real magic was her second shot in the playoff on the par-5, number 18 at the Seaview Hotel and Golf Club. She hit a 7-wood from 193 yards within 10 feet. She has used the same club to set up an eagle at number nine earlier in the day.
Weaver-Wright, a 28-year-old American still looking for her first tour win, forced the playoff with birdies on four of the last six holes, including a long one at number 17 and a 10-footer at the par-5 final hole for a 65.
Weaver-Wright found the fairway in the playoff but her second shot was short of the green. Her third shot landed around the same distance from the hole as Henderson, but she was away.
She missed her birdie putt and Henderson, ranked number 11 in the world, had no pressure making the eagle to win to pocket USD262,500.
“I’ve always loved a victory and never tried to take them for granted, but with the pandemic in 2020 I only played 10 events, and I think I had six top 10s but no victory,” Henderson said. “So that was a little bit of a – it shook the confidence a little bit.”
Henderson, who finished second in the opening event on tour this year, seems to have her confidence back.
While disappointed, Weaver-Wright was encouraged by her performance this week.
“It’s everything, especially because I haven’t been playing that great this year,” she said. “I mean, solo second, my best finish ever on the LPGA. It’s my fifth year out here. Like it’s a huge milestone for me. I’m just excited for the summer now.”
Henderson, whose last victory was in Los Angeles in 2021, moved into the lead with a short birdie at number 12. She stayed there until Weaver-Wright birdied the 17th.
Playing in the group in front of her, Henderson reached the par-5 final hole in two and lagged her eagle putt to tap-in birdie range.
Weaver-Wright matched the birdie despite missing the fairway, sinking a 10-footer.
Jodi Eward Shadoff of England made an eagle on the final hole to finish a shot behind the leaders at 11 under. She shot 67,
“I feel like I managed my emotions out there being in contention, and just a really good experience going into the rest of the season,” said the 34-year-old who has never won on the tour.
Number four Lydia Ko also made a birdie on the final hole and tied for fourth with Albane Valenzuela, a Swiss resident and former Stanford star looking for her first LPGA Tour win. They both shot 67s.
Brittany Lincicome, who is due to give birth to her second child in September, tied for sixth with New Jersey native Marina Alex and Nasa Hataoka, who both won recently in California.
Lincicome and Alex shot 67s, a stroke better than Hataoka, who opened with four birdies on the first five holes to take an early two-shot lead.
“Finishing third being seven months pregnant, just being out here competing, being in contention, means the world,” said the 36-year-old Lincicome, who has not won since 2018.
“It’s cool to be in here talking to you guys again. I haven’t done that in a while.”
Defending champion Celine Boutier of France shot a 63 to finish in a group at 8-under.
Frida Kinhult of Sweden started the final round at 9-under with a one-shot lead over fellow non-winner Lauren Coughlin. Both struggled, with Coughlin shooting a 72 to finish at 7-under, and Kinhult finishing at 5-under after a 75.
Overnight rain drenched the course close to Atlantic City and made the greens very receptive, helping the scoring.