Brooke Henderson will not have her sister Brittany caddying for her at an LPGA Tour event this week for the first time in five years — and that’s just one change at the Meijer LPGA Classic as Henderson looks to defend her title from 2019.
The elder Henderson sister will be forced to skip the event while she navigates a work permit issue. She got married last year to Zach Sepanik — who works for the LPGA Tour — and applied for new immigration status as a wife of an American. Her application was delayed due to COVID-19 complications and her work visa expired Tuesday.
Henderson and Sepanik bought a home in Naples, Fla. and are working to expedite the paperwork with the office of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Brittany Henderson can stay in the U.S. but cannot work at this time, so Brooke Henderson will have veteran caddy Everette Nini on her bag instead.
“He has lots of experience out here and is a good friend,” said Henderson. “Definitely disappointed not to have Brit on my bag this week because we always make a great team and I love having her there.”
Henderson said the biggest thing she’ll have to get adjusted to while working with Nini is learning his tendencies. The sister duo has been one of the most successful player-caddy combos in golf the last five years.
“(Brittany) pretty much reads my mind out there a lot of time,” said Henderson, who offered only that it was a “waiting game” with respect to when Brittany Henderson’s paperwork would be pushed through.
This week’s LPGA Tour stop did not take place in 2020 due to COVID-19, so Henderson, who also won the event in 2017, will for the second time this season enter as the defending champion at a COVID-impacted event. The LOTTE Championship in Hawaii was the other.
Henderson, who captured her ninth LPGA Tour title at the Michigan event in 2019 — breaking the record for most wins by a Canadian on the LPGA or PGA Tour — will have to navigate a new Blythefield Country Club.
The course in Grand Rapids, Mich. underwent a robust renovation through 2020 and the course looks much different now than when she played in 2019. Every bunker on the course was rebuilt and fairways were realigned.
The now 10-time LPGA Tour winner said a few of the tee shots are more challenging because of the location of some of new bunkers. Henderson used to aggressively cut corners on a few holes at Blythefield but admitted she can’t do that anymore.
It’s a different-looking course and a different player-caddy relationship this week for Henderson, but she’s hoping for the same kind of result.
“I just feel at home when I come here. The weather, the trees. It reminds me of home up in Canada,” said Henderson. “It’s just a wonderful place to be, and hopefully I can make some more great memories this week.”
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