Michael Hendry laughs, and says he’ll update it soon. It’s the bio on his web page. In it he lists winning the Indonesian Open in 2010 and NZ PGA two years later as his most satisfying golfing moments. That all changed late in the day last Sunday when Hendry drove hard to the pin on the 18th at Millbrook in Arrowtown.
It was the first hole of a three way playoff for the New Zealand Open with fellow Kiwi Ben Campbell and Australian Brad Kennedy, the 2011 champion. Hendry, a superb striker of the ball, rolled his ball to within 5m of the hole. Campbell and Kennedy found water.
“The whole day I’d felt in good space and that I was control of my emotions and my swing,” Hendry says. “To be honest, I was disappointed I hadn’t won in regulation. When (Kennedy and Campbell) found the water, I knew I had a chance. But my caddie, Jordan Dasler, told me to keep my head in the game and that was just what I need to hear.”
The win saw Hendry pocket $178,000 and move from 172 to 118 on the world ranking, pushing him ahead of Ryan Fox (137) into second in the New Zealand pecking order and nipping at the heels of Danny Lee (111). But none of that mattered as much as seeing his name engraved on the trophy, the first time a New Zealander had achieved the feat in 14 years.
“The New Zealand Open is one of the biggest tournaments for me to win. It’s not the biggest financially, but emotionally it is; there’s a real emotional attachment to it.”
There was a time when Hendry wanted to swing a cricket bat for the Blackcaps rather than chase a golf ball around 18 holes in what some say is a good walk spoiled. He was good enough to be a contender, playing for New Zealand under 19s and for Ealing in England’s Middlesex League. But the first stump was pulled on that dream when the 20-year-old Hendry tore a biceps tendon bowling for his East Coast Bays club on Auckland’s North Shore.
“The shoulder injury stagnated my cricket career at a point where it was just starting to take off,” Hendry says. “I didn’t need surgery but it took about two years to recover physically and mentally. While I couldn’t play cricket, I focused more on my golf because I could still swing a golf club.
“The injury was a blessing in disguise. I would have been a good first class cricketer and maybe, and it’s a big ‘maybe’, a fringe Blackcap. I would have been the guy picked when others were unavailable.”
Hendry’s been chasing his golf dream for about 15 years and, at 37, believes he’s mid-career. “There’s no reason I can’t compete for another decade. The focus just goes from learning the skills of the game to being physically capable of competing with the younger guys.”
His coach, former professional Marcus Wheelhouse, has no doubt Hendry has many more years and wins to come. “He’s a very good athlete and is incredibly strong willed. Everybody peaks at different stages and Mike is a late bloomer because he played so much cricket. As long as he is fit, age won’t be an issue.”
Wheelhouse, once rated the No1 amateur golfer in the world, shared the greens with Hendry when his career was winding down and Hendry’s was teeing off. “He was very focused and still has that way about him. He’s got the swagger. He’s incredibly professional and has the intensity good golfers need. He’s a real student of the game.”
Hendry plies his trade in Japan and, with career earnings around the $5m mark, earns a decent living. Of course, he’d love to play on the PGA tour in the United States, but he’s not so sure about whether he wants to join the European Tour. That’s because playing in Japan allows him to continue to live in New Zealand, a good base for his wife Tara and their daughter Maddison, who’s on her way to turning three.
For now, those two are his focus as he enjoys a few days off. Oh, and he might get around to updating his profile. New Zealand Open champion, 2017 – it has, he thinks, a very nice ring to it.