Golf: Hendry breaks Kiwi drought at NZ Open

Michael Hendry teeing off on day four at the 2017 ISPS Handa New Zealand Golf Open. Photo / photosport.nz
Michael Hendry teeing off on day four at the 2017 ISPS Handa New Zealand Golf Open. Photo / photosport.nz

He's been jet lagged, battled a crook stomach, a bad back and had to grind his way from tee to green for much of the week, but Michael Hendry is the 2017 ISPS Handa New Zealand Open champion.

Morning rain proved prescient as Hendry broke a 14-year golfing drought in the NZ$1 million Tier One event on the PGA Tour of Australasia to become the first Kiwi to lift the Brodie Breeze trophy since Mahal Pearce in 2003.

Hendry, who started the day three shots behind tournament leader and Queenstown local Ben Campbell, carded a two-under 69 at Millbrook Resort, but then had to wait for the final pairing of Campbell and Brad Kennedy, of Australia, who caught him with birdies on the 17th to force a three-way playoff.

Campbell, who lost in a three-way playoff at last week's NZ PGA Championship, and Kennedy, who won a playoff against Craig Parry to win the New Zealand Open in 2011, both put their playoff tee shots into the water at the 18th island green to virtually hand the title to Hendry, who landed his about 15 feet from the pin.

The 37-year-old Japan Tour player, who turned professional in 2005, has had five previous wins, including the Indonesian Open in 2010 and the NZ PGA Championship at the nearby The Hills course in 2013.

"This is the one I wanted the most of any trophy and I've got it now," Hendry said.

"I think for most of the Kiwis in the field - if it's not one of the four (Majors), it's this one. To have the New Zealand Open trophy and have my name on the NZ PGA trophy as well, it's pretty sweet."

Hendry credited back-to-back eagles late in his third round for the spark which set his tournament alight.

"That was the winning of the tournament this week. They gave me the opportunity to execute the gameplan that I wanted today. Right then and there was when I won the golf tournament, in my opinion."

Campbell, who finished one-over for the day with a 72, won't go away empty-handed, his tied-for-second finish earning him three starts on the Japan Tour this year.

"It's a bit disappointing. It just wasn't quite there today swing-wise," Campbell said.

"I kind of lost my setup for a bit there and I kind of went back to a drill I've been going and hit some good shots coming in and sank some good putts. It's a bit frustrating, but that's how it goes."

Starting the day a shot behind Campbell, Kennedy tripped out of gates with a double bogey on the first hole, two further bogeys putting a dent in his claim for a second New Zealand Open title.

After three days of Central Otago perfection, the southerly change blew in colder than a mother-in-law's scorn and the scoreboard froze up accordingly.

The par-5 10th proved a turning point with Hendry producing a coaching manual bunker shot to promote himself to the top of the leaderboard.

Dreadlocked Australian Jack Wilson produced a five-under 66 to lift himself to fifth behind fourth-placed Aussie Deyen Lawson.

Ryan Fox, with top caddie Steve Williams on his bag for the first time, started the day seven shots behind and was left with too much ground to make up, finishing tied for sixth after a three-under 68.

"I really enjoyed the week with Steve and learned a lot. Anything under par today was going to be a good score, so I'm happy with that," Fox said.

Nelson's Ryan Chisnall collected the Bledisloe Cup as the tournament's leading amateur, finishing at three-under in a share of 58th place.

- NZ Herald

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