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Brooke Henderson on the 5th tee during the third round of the Women's Individual Stroke Play golf on day 14 of the Rio Olympics. (Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Brooke Henderson on the 5th tee during the third round of the Women's Individual Stroke Play golf on day 14 of the Rio Olympics. (Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Brooke Henderson ready for challenge of Women’s Australian Open Add to ...

Brooke Henderson expects her hard work in 2016 is going to pay off in the new LPGA season.

Henderson tees off at the Women’s Australian Open on Wednesday, looking to build on her first full season as a professional where she reached as high as No. 2 in the world rankings. She was one of the busiest players on the LPGA Tour last year and although it was exhausting, Henderson believes it will pay off in the long run.

“I think it was really important because I got to know what the courses were like, what the fans were like in that area,” Henderson said Tuesday. “I got to get a feel for the hotels, the golf courses, what travelling to that place was like, the time changes. I learned a lot of information about every place that I went, and so this year I can be a little bit more careful and kind of conserve my energy a little bit better and just go to the places that I want to go to.”

The 19-year-old from Smiths Falls, Ont., finished in a tie for 21st place at the LPGA Classic last month. She showed moments of brilliance at that event, including an 8-under 65 in the second round, but also had an underwhelming 73 the next day.

She’ll be joined at the Australian Open by three other Canadians: Hamilton’s Alena Sharp, Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sherbrooke, Que., and Calgary’s Jennifer Ha.

Henderson, who finished last season in the No. 8 position, is hopeful her world ranking will rise over the coming months.

“I think everybody out on the LPGA Tour, their goal is to be the No. 1 player in the world and that of course is very difficult to do,” said Henderson. “(World No. 1) Lydia Ko has done an incredible and amazing job. Her career is incredible, but being in that No. 2 position for a short time last summer was really exciting. Watching it kind of slip away was heartbreaking, so hopefully I get up to a little bit faster start this year and see my world ranking climb.”

Added Henderson: “I think by the end of 2017 (I’ll) definitely be in the top five and if I get a chance to be better than that, I’ll try and do that.”

All three of Henderson’s career tour wins came on tight, tree-lined courses. This year’s Women’s Australian Open will be on the links-style Seaton course at The Royal Adelaide Golf Club, a more wide-open course that won’t necessarily suit Henderson’s playing style.

“I’m kind of using this week as a challenge and like I said, not normally the course that I necessarily play my best on, but I’m definitely looking forward to it this week and I feel like good things might happen,” she said.

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