Michael Hendry will look to exploit his local knowledge when the inaugural REBEL Sport Masters gets underway at Wainui Golf Club on Thursday.
The reigning ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open champion is one of the pre-tournament favourites at Wainui, north of Auckland: “I’m a member here as well as Gulf Harbour and I live literally about three minutes up the road so it was a no-brainer to play. I’m always keen to support my golf course and New Zealand events as well.”
“It’s a fantastic golf course, a great layout but it’s going to be really challenging this week.
“It’s a tough golf course in soft conditions let alone in these hard and fast conditions. It’s just one of those things as players we’re going to have to realise; we’re going to get some pretty big bounces at times and they’re not always going to be good ones.
“Hopefully, the guys can appreciate the golf course for what it is and so too can the spectators when they come and watch.”
The 38-year-old gets the chance this week to add a third national title to his name after winning the NZ PGA Championship in 2012 and 2013, and last year’s New Zealand Open where he became the first Kiwi to win since 2003.
“Absolutely it would be nice to say you’re a New Zealand Masters, New Zealand PGA and New Zealand Open champion. It’d be a pretty cool trifecta to have,” added Hendry.
“Obviously there’s no real history to the event yet but hopefully the guys behind the tournament can continue to drive it and make it bigger and better.”
Hendry, who plays on the lucrative Japan Golf Tour, said he was happy to support the new REBEL Sport Masters, which tees off the 2018 ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia season.
The proud New Zealander also made the decision not to play the WGC – Mexico Championship, where he would be guaranteed at least US$40,000 in prizemoney, instead opting to defend his title at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open.
“I always like to try and front up as much as I can on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, it doesn’t always help with the schedules clashing as much as they do. But I love playing my home Tour, I always have.”
Following the REBEL Sport Masters, Hendry will contest the SMBC Singapore Open, co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour, giving him the perfect opportunity to fine-tune his game under tournament conditions this week.
The REBEL Sport Masters will be played at Wainui Golf Club from 11-14 January, round one begins Thursday at 7:30am local time with Hendry teeing off at 7:50am.