Bright year ahead
Defending NZ PGA champion on his way up
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.’’
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.