(Reuters) - Brooke Henderson became the third player in LPGA history to win a tour event before her 18th birthday, and she did it in style with a runaway eight-stroke victory at the Cambia Portland Classic on Sunday. The Canadian, who turns 18 on Sept. 10, closed with a comfortable three-under 69 for the largest margin of victory on the LPGA circuit this year.
She finished at 21-under 267, a tournament record at Columbia Edgewater Country Club in Oregon.
Henderson joined Lydia Ko, of New Zealand, and American Lexi Thompson as LPGA winners before turning 18. Ko was 15 when she first won, while Thompson was 16.
“It's amazing,” Henderson told reporters. “It's such an unbelievable thing.
“It's not even real-life yet, I don't think. I was just trying to play my own game and I kept trying to get it to minus-24 all day today. I came up a little bit short, but I got the win, and I'm extremely excited.”
Henderson began the day with a five-shot lead. Neither of her final group competitors, American Morgan Pressel (75) nor German Sandra Gal (77), made a run. By the turn, the Canadian extended her lead to eight strokes, turning the back nine into a victory march. In 10 events through sponsor exemptions and Monday qualifying, Henderson has won $661,818 in unofficial earnings.
She does not have full LPGA membership because she is under the minimum age requirement of 18. She has not decided whether to petition the LPGA for her membership now that she has won.
“I haven't even really thought about it yet,” Henderson said. “I'm just going to celebrate tonight and then hopefully make a decision soon and we'll see what happens.” Henderson’s victory, which arrived a week before the Canadian Women’s Open in Vancouver, ended a 14-year Canadian drought.
Nobody from her homeland had won an LPGA tournament since Lorie Kane claimed the Takefuji Classic in Hawaii in February 2001.
(Reporting by Tim Wharnsby in Toronto. Editing by Andrew Both)