We blogged early in the week about Danny Lee and Tim Wilkinson's ultimately unsuccessful quest to find a place on golf's holy grail, the PGA Tour. Lee and Wilkinson may have failed, but at least they have the second-tier Web.Com Tour as a fall-back, and that is played primarily in the USA.
Not all professional golfers have that luxury. Many clock up air points as they fly from country to country in quest of a buck. And most New Zealand professionals fall into that category.
Michael Hendry is one such golfer. What he lacks in natural talent he makes up for with hard graft and sheer bloody-mindedness. And over the last couple of years he has plied his trade on the Australasian Tour and in Asia.
Last weekend Michael Hendry qualified for his Japan Tour card. If he is successful up there, he will make a good living, and most of his travel will be internal withing Japan. But having qualified, he and several other Australian players then had to attend a seminar for new tour graduands. And that's where the fun began, as Hendry and his Australian mates had entered the Australian Open in Sydney which started yesterday; Newstalk ZB reports:
Kiwi golfer Michael Hendry's endured one of the more dramatic days of his golfing career, but has come out with a pleasing result in the opening round of the Australian Open in Sydney.
After fears he'd miss his tee time when his plane was delayed from Japan, Hendry made it to the course with just 20 minutes to spare with the help of a $15,000 charter flight.
He's gone round in an even par 72 to be in a tie for 28th, which he says was scarcely believable in the hours leading up to starting.
"We're on the plane within probably 10 minutes of landing in the Gold Coast and then literally took only 15 minutes to get from the wheels touching down on Sydney Airport's runway to the driving range, so it was unbelievable."
He says the toughest challenge was trying to calm down once he got to the course.
"I wasn't worried about the lack of preparation, it was more about sort of gaining some kind of equilibrium where I wasn't all flustered about whether I was going to get through all the rest of it, so you can imagine there was a lot of nervous energy amongst the guys."
"I played brilliantly today, I just had a bad couple of pieces of luck with a couple of wind gusts and things like that but we can't put a finger on any bad shots that I hit earlier today, it was just a matter of getting a few harsh bounces."
Australian John Senden leads at six under par.
For Hendry to have shot an even-par 72 on a gusty afternoon in Sydney after all the dramas suggests that he has an excellent temperament. And in a professional sport in which the mental aspect of the game is exceedingly important, we reckon that he has a successful career ahead of him in Australasia (where he is currently the top of the Order of Merit) and then Japan.
But he and his golfing mates have his wife Tara to thank; she was the one who made all the arrangements to get them from the Gold Coast to Sydney in double-quick time, and at some considerable expense.
If he can achieve success in Japan, doors will open for him, and who knows; he may yet join the likes of Danny Lee and Tim Wilkinson in the US, playing for some serious cash. He has a $15,000 hole on his credit card at the moment that needs immediate attention!
Legendary South African golfer Gary Player was once approached by a fan after a round in which he had hung in to shoot a reasonable score without playing his best. "You were lucky out there today Mr Player" the fan said. "Thank you." said Player. "And do you know what? The harder I practise, the luckier I get." Here's hoping that Michael Hendry gets lucky too; based on yesterday's efforts, there is no lack of commitment and determination to succeed.