Golf | Junior Orange Bowl International Championship

Canadian girl leads Junior Orange Bowl golf


Brooke Henderson of Canada shot a 72 to tie for the second-round lead at the Junior Orange Bowl.

Brooke Henderson rolls a putt at Biltmore. From Canada, she is tied for the second-day lead. Photo by Bill Van Smith
Brooke Henderson rolls a putt at Biltmore. From Canada, she is tied for the second-day lead. Photo by Bill Van Smith
Bill Van Smith

Special to the Miami Herald

Canada is not tremendously noted for producing good golfers. Only a few come immediately to mind, such as Mike Weir, George Knudson and Dave Barr.

There’s a good reason for the sparseness: It’s cold and icy a decent chunk of the year in Canada. Not ideal conditions for golf.

Brooke Henderson, one of the world’s top juniors at age 16 and a Canadian, wants to break the trend and prove that her country can produce standout golfers.

She has taken a step toward that goal by shooting a 72 Saturday following her first-round 68 Friday for a 2-under 140 total that moved her into a tie for the lead in the Junior Orange Bowl International Championship at Biltmore Golf Course. Soyoung Lee of South Korea also was at 140 after rounds of 66 and 74, and one more stroke back was Megan Khang of Rockland, Mass.

“No, the weather is not ideal,” Henderson said of Canada, “but good golfers can come from there. It can be done.”

That said, she admitted, “I do quite a bit of traveling during the winter months.” That traveling would be in a southerly direction.

And that’s why she finds herself at the Junior OB, accompanied by her big sister and parents.

It was big sister Brittany that introduced Brooke to the golf world.

“She played on the Canadian National Team and played in college at Coastal Carolina,” Brooke said of Brittany.

Currently, the two are “very friendly competitors” on the golf course, according to Brooke. “It’s lots of fun playing her. We’re pretty close in ability. She teaches me a lot.”

Brooke, who started golf when she was 5 or 6, is now a high school junior and on the verge of visiting colleges. She’s not revealing where she might go but admitted with a smile it would be south of Canada.

After college, Brooke — who is 5-4 and 145 pounds and averages around 260 yards with her drives — would like to play professionally

“I love everything about golf,” she said. “It teaches you so much, particularly values.

“I never get tired of the game. If I ever need to take some time off from golf, I right away start missing it.”

Brooke has two holes-in-one to her credit, one in Ontario followed by another in Quebec. She was 12.

And she proudly added, “They came three days apart.”

In Saturday’s boys’ play, Italy remained atop the leaderboard. Renato Paratore shot his second 67 for an 8-under 134 and a four-stroke advantage over Belgium’s Alan De Bondt (69-69—138), Venezuela’s Jorge Garcia (69-69—138) and Chile’s Guillermo Pereira (67-71—138).

Although Garcia is representing Venezuela, he lives in South Florida and plays for Plantation American Heritage High in Broward County.

Of his two 67s, Paratore described the state of his game, “All of it is great. It’s all working — irons, putting, driving. Everything.”

Heading into the final two rounds on Sunday and Monday, does Paratore think he can win the championship?

“Sure,” he said confidently. “That’s why we came here. To play golf and try to win.”

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