Bright year ahead

De­fend­ing NZ PGA cham­pion on his way up

Central Otago Mirror - - LAKES DISTRICT SPORT - By GRANT BRYANT

The year 2013 is start­ing with a flurry of ac­tiv­ity for ris­ing Kiwi golfer Michael Hendry, who as de­fend­ing NZ PGA cham­pion will be look­ing to stave off all­com­ers at Ar­row­town’s The Hills NZ PGA Cham­pi­onship come March 28. Straight af­ter the tour­na­ment he will be fly­ing to Florida to join 50 of the world’s top golfers in theWGCCadil­lac In­vi­ta­tional, a com­pe­ti­tion now led by former world No 1 Ernie Els. But the Auck­lan­der with south­ern con­nec­tions is look­ing to build on a huge year in 2012, start­ing with his Ar­row­town ap­pear­ance, which could serve as his lucky charm for 2013. ‘‘This tour­na­ment is ab­so­lutely on the up and up, and I’ll be look­ing to leave with a good re­sult again this year,’’ he said. ‘‘All the guys on the Aussie leg of the Aus­tralasian tour have been talk­ing about how it’s their fa­vorite stop on the whole tour. Queen­stown it­self is what it is – and that’s an in­cred­i­ble, beau­ti­ful place, but the event it­self has got a great feel and the way or­gan­is­ers ran it last year I didn’t hear a bad word – and it’s not of­ten you get a bunch of golf pros to­gether and there’s no com­plain­ing.’’ The ProAm­for­mat means that ev­ery player who makes the cut gets paired with an ama­teur player – and this year’s list of am­a­teurs in­cludes former English cap­tain, cur­rent com­men­ta­tor, renowned racon­teur and re­formed wild boy, Sir Ian Botham. Hendry rep­re­sented New Zealand at cricket at un­der level, and only gave away the 11-man game for the soli­tude of golf when he was forced into a choice of one or the other. So there’s no guess­ing who his choice of ama­teur part­ner would be. ‘‘I ob­vi­ously played a lot of cricket, and when I was grow­ing up Ian Botham and Richard Hadlee were the real big guns, so pair­ing with Sir Ian would be a bit of a great sce­nario.’’ Se­cur­ing The Hills as the home of the NZPA Cham­pi­onships for at least the next five years will give the tour­na­ment time to grow into its full po­ten­tial, which will even­tu­ally raise the pro­file of golf in New Zealand, and New Zealand golf abroad, Hendry reck­ons. ‘‘The mo­men­tum feels like its really grow­ing, and I’m really look­ing for­ward to the event. If it builds on its strengths from last year, it’ll go even fur­ther next year and in the coming years, I’m sure.’’

Photo: SUP­PLIED 627570458

Sights set high: Michael Hendry tak­ing out the NZ PGA Cham­pi­onship at The Hills last year.

Greg Turner The 1984 NZ PGA cham­pion is back for an­other go. Due to be pop­u­lar with the lo­cals the Kelvin Heights res­i­dent also played at the NZ Open last year, de­fy­ing the odds to make the cut and play all four rounds, 10 years af­ter he last com­peted.

Steve Alker The 2009 NZ PGA win­ner, he fin­ished 2012 with a top five fin­isher at the Chile Clas­sic on the Web.com Tour.

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