Australian Daniela Darbellay: Golf identity will pass to Brooke Henderson

Player of the Decade Award is the pinnacle of sport for women, not golf

Thursday 22 October, 21:35 BST

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Brooke Henderson is quite simply the greatest all-sport athlete I’ve ever come across in my 34 years in the sport of golf.

The 19-year-old stole a march on her rivals by making it five holes in a row without a bogey at the Career Development Open at Dundonald Links last week – something that’s never been done before – then almost undid her good work by a few shots the next day.

Without a doubt, Henderson is the game’s “darling” and “most popular” – a rare combination in golf, where often couples are deemed to be more interesting than individuals, if not sport in general.

Even the golf executives believe her, saying of her in an official statement: “She is primed to succeed on the senior circuit and into pro-television as the next star on the US women’s Tour.”

Henderson continues to gain recognition for her ability and style off the golf course

Now I’m from the school of thought that I think now is the right time for a golfing legacy to be handed down to Henderson and her compatriots from the growing millennial demographic, who are also at their best in this story.

For her, that will mean long-term success at the professional level – while the women’s tour in this country is still a long way from the stature of the men’s, it was a woman who will be a huge inspiration to many golfers who have dreams of following in her footsteps.

I was asked before her trip to Scotland to write a big story that talked about Henderson’s potential as a LPGA golfer and I had all the players, who recognised her early talent, support me on this.

For Henderson is a player full of ambition and deserves to be given the opportunity to fulfil her hopes for an incredible career. She continues to gain recognition for her ability and style off the golf course.

And how else would we expect a woman who was the youngest female professional to qualify for a senior tour event to live than with the same attitude towards her education, career and ambition as a male golfer would?

Another pivotal development in Henderson’s career is her relationship with Bob Dorfman, the sports marketing expert who first identified her potential.

Henderson’s father Nick is “cautiously optimistic” she’ll be able to play in the next US Open in 2019

Dorfman speaks glowingly of Henderson and her father, Nick, calling them a great couple. I have great respect for their relationship – and of course, an overflowing amount of love for Brooke.

The father-daughter bond for many youngsters has become a norm. I can remember meeting a new player many years ago who was better than me after five rounds of golf.

The next morning, he met with me to talk about how to make a transition to becoming a professional. It was obvious he would be there every step of the way, from qualifying to victory, but for him, it was like meeting my parents for the first time.

He was going to be the person, my biggest supporter and my big sis. I began to realise you can’t just jump straight from school into professional golf and some players will not make it.

Nick and Brooke are going to get there. Their story is as compelling as her golf career.

I don’t think golf will change the way it is. I think it will only become even more relevant and appealing to young people.

But for now Henderson’s journey will continue and she will have all the backing she needs.

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