Few will appreciate the golfing pressure on Lydia Ko at this week's McKayson New Zealand Women's Open as much as Brooke Henderson.

The 20-year-old was the face for her home tournament, the Canadian Pacific Open, last month in Ontario. She finished tied for 12th.

A similar challenge awaits Ko, who was identifiable by the swarm following her around the Windross Farm course yesterday. Ko has been in a similar position at home, winning the equivalent event at Christchurch's Clearwater Resort in 2013, 2015 and 2016.

However, the quality of the field has improved since the tournament earned a place on the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour. Eight major winners are involved, including Ko and Henderson, competing for a purse of US$1.3 million and a winner's cheque of US$195,000.


Henderson won last year's PGA Championship at 18 years, nine months and two days, defeating Ko in a play-off. She became the second-youngest major title winner after Ko's 2015 Evian Championship victory at 18 years, four months and 20 days.

The Canadian was the second of the major-winning octet to register for the tournament after Ko.

"It's exciting [for Lydia] to have a home event for her fans," she said yesterday. "You've got to embrace that. In Canada one of highlights [for me] was feeling that support. Hopefully the same thing happens for her.

"We're good friends and she's always inspired me. We're the same age, but she made it to the tour earlier and was someone I looked up to."

Henderson backed Ko's pedigree to trump results which have struggled at times over the past year, although the New Zealander has come off tying for third in the Evian Championship.

"I feel like she maybe hasn't had the season she was looking for ... but she still has a lot of top 10s and is playing great golf. She's getting it back on track."

Henderson empathised with Ko's circumstances from her own experience. "I had a banner year last year where everything seemed to go perfect but I had a tougher start this season until I got a win in June and finished second in the major I won the previous year.

"Sometimes you've got to ride the rollercoaster, I've learned that over the last two years; stay patient, work hard and good things will happen."

Henderson benefits from a tight family environment which includes sister and caddy Brittany, father and coach Dave, and mother Darlene. Her sister gives the tour an OE flavour as they travel the world sharing the experience. That includes preparing a strategy for what will be an unfamiliar links-style course this week.

"[Brittany's] my best friend. She does a lot of work for me on and off the course. It's so much fun to have her there because golf could be lonely if you were by yourself, especially with time changes where you can't talk to people back home."

When she signed in June, Henderson acknowledged her parents' sacrifices. "Mum doesn't play golf but she is our number one cheerleader, and Dad is our coach and has been since I was three. I wouldn't be in the position I am without him."