Best Coast: Henderson eager to play in CPKC Women's Open at Shaughnessy in Vancouver

VANCOUVER — Brooke Henderson loves the West Coast. She hopes it'll love her back at this week's CPKC Women's Open.

Henderson, from Smiths Falls, Ont., has won three times in the Pacific Northwest and is eager to try and do it again as the Canadian women's golf championship returns to Vancouver for the first time in eight years.

"I love this area. I love Vancouver. I love the Pacific Northwest, so I'm super excited to be back here," said Henderson on Tuesday at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club. "I feel like it's so beautiful. The views we have on Numbers 10, 11 and 12 this week, the tall trees, everything about this place is really special.

"So it's cool that we get to bring the world's best female golfers to this area, and hopefully lots of people can come out and support and watch."

Shaughnessy is finally hosting the event after it was originally scheduled at the Vancouver course back in 2020. However, the only LPGA Tour tournament in Canada was cancelled that year and in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year's edition was held at Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club, one of Henderson's home courses.

The Pacific Northwest has been kind to Henderson, with her first three wins on the LPGA Tour in the region.

"I love the tall trees and how they frame the fairways, and that's exactly what this course has," said Henderson, who won the Cambria Portland Classic in 2015 and 2016 and the KPMG Women's PGA Championship in Sammamish, Wash., in 2016.

"I just love the atmosphere and the vibes, and it's just special to be here this week."

Henderson will be facing a stacked field this week.

Recently crowned world No. 1 Lillia Vu of the United States will be back in action after taking two weeks off following her win at the AIG Women's Open. Winning that major moved Vu up to the top spot on the LPGA Tour and she hopes to carry that momentum into this week's tournament.

"Just do the same thing. Don't change anything," said Vu. "I feel like once you get up top I feel like people either put a lot of pressure on themselves or try to change the entire thing.

"I'm just going to keep it the same way."

South Africa's Paula Reto, who won her first LPGA Tour event in Ottawa last year, returns to defend her title. She said that trying to repeat as champion at courses over 3,500 kilometres apart is a unique challenge.

"I really like this golf course, so that's great. It's a little similar to the one we played last year," said Reto. "But you know what? It's great and I'm going to keep trying to do the best I can day-to-day, not think about it too much."

Maddie Szeryk of London, Ont., is the other full-time Canadian LPGA Tour player in the field. A total of 15 Canadians will tee it up at the national women's championship.

Amateur Luna Lu of Burnaby, B.C., earned her way into the event in Monday qualifying, joining a full field that includes Hamilton's Alena Sharp, Brigitte Thibault of Rosemere, Que., and Quebec City's Sarah-Eve Rhéaume.

The field also includes four Team Canada amateurs Lauren Kim of Surrey, Katie Cranston of Oakville, Ont., Lauren Zaretsky of Thornhill, Ont., and Brooke Rivers of Brampton, Ont.

Vancouver resident and Shaughnessy member Victoria Liu also accepted an exemption to compete at her home golf club.

Amateurs Ellie Szeryk of London, Angela Arora of Surrey, B.C., Toronto's Vanessa Borovilos, Yeji Kwon of Port Coquitlam, B.C., and Victoria's Sonja Tang round out the Canadian contingent.

The European team for the upcoming Solheim Cup was finalized on Tuesday, with six captain's picks announced. The best-on-best international tournament sees a team of Europeans play a team of Americans, much like the Ryder Cup in men's golf.

The CPKC Women's Open is serving as the final qualifying event for the U.S. team. Vu is eager to see who will join her on the American squad when the captain's selections are announced Monday.

"It gets me really excited because I know all the girls and know how good they are," said Vu, who was an automatic selection based on her world ranking. "It makes me excited that we get to go compete for our country with such a strong team."

An air quality advisory in metro Vancouver's southwest region was cancelled early Tuesday morning with further improvement expected overnight. Smoky conditions from ongoing wildfires in British Columbia's interior had made the air quality advisory necessary.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 22, 2023.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press