Q & A: Henderson still pursuing break

Former UC Irvine golfer Selanee Henderson said appearing on the Golf Channel's Big Break Atlantis was indeed a big boost to her young professional career.

She taped 11 episodes on 10 consecutive days in January and February and the show aired from May 14 through July 23.

Henderson was defeated in the 18-hole match-play final by Marcela Leon, five and four. The competition took place at Paradise Island Golf Course in the Bahamas.

Henderson, a four-time first-team All-Big West Conference performer at UCI from 2004 through 2008 who was conference Player of the Year in 2006, finished second among 12 contestants and was also voted fan favorite.

She currently competes on the Symetra Tour, the world's largest international women's development tour.

She took a few moments to reflect on her Big Break experience.

Question: What stands out as you look back on the show?

Answer: I guess what stands out most is how much I grew, especially with confidence and overcoming a lot of fear and anxiety that I had been inflicting on myself. It just forced me to be more confident in getting through all those stressful situations. I still get nervous, but it's now a confident nervous.

And, it was just a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I got really close with the girls and we all got really close, really fast.

Q: Can you detail your winnings from the show?

A: I was surprised with a trip to the Atlantis resort in Dubai for placing second. I would like to give that to my teacher, Mike Hancock [from the Van Buren Golf Center in Riverside], because he donated so much time to helping me.

I also won the fan favorite poll and the prize is having 2012 qualifying school paid for, which is $5,500.

Q: Is that the most pressure you've ever performed under?

A: Definitely. I don't know what it is about Big Break, but every single shot counts. You can't make up for [a bad shot] with a really good next shot like you do in real golf. And you only get one chance to be on the Big Break. People who don't come out to watch tournaments on tour are watching that, so it's just a little nerve-wracking and a lot of pressure.

Q: How often are you recognized in public, now?

A: Only in golf environments am I recognized. I walked into Roger Dunn [a golf retail store] a few weeks ago and I kept getting weird looks from people there. They just looked at me, because they weren't sure it was me. I have a few random followers and kids get excited to get a signature.

Q: What are your short-term goals?

A: I'm playing on the Symetra Tour and I'm doing pretty well. I plan to move up on the money list, because the top 10 get their LPGA card and get to bypass qualifying school altogether.

Q: Why was it important to wear your UCI visor on the show?

A: I just felt that I wanted to represent my school and so I wore it on every episode.

Q: Your brother is MMA star Dan Henderson. Would you say you have grappling skills?

A: Nope. I'm not so good at the grappling and wrestling and fighting. I was a pretty good fighter when I played high school and club soccer. I was all about taking other girls out, legally. I would win the ball and I would get yellow-carded a lot. I was aggressive on the soccer field.

Q: Will you remain in touch with your fellow Big Break contestants?

A: Oh yeah, we do keep in touch and we're all really close. I knew a couple of them before the show and Anya [Alvarez], Gloriana Soto and [Leon] are all on the Symetra Tour, so I see them, I'm real close with Allison [Micheletti], Christiana [Stockton] and Kelly [Villarreal].

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