Cancer survivor hopes to add a second title to New Zealand Open resume

Cancer-survivor Michael Hendry firmly believes he can add a second New Zealand Open title to his resume when the 103rd event tees off in Queenstown next week.

For much of last year, the 2017 New Zealand Open Champion and last kiwi to hold the Brodie Breeze Trophy, was in a fight for his life after contracting leukaemia.

Now a cancer-free, leaner, fitter Hendry – more worldly for his experiences – is confident he can play a major hand at the New Zealand Open at Millbrook Resort. And what has changed, should he not attain his goals, then he is at peace with his journey to return to the game he loves.

His last biopsy has come back negative of any trace of leukaemia and now he is turning his attention to achievement on the golf course.

“Success nine months ago would have been just being able to turn up,” said Hendry. “Fortunately the hard work I have done has put me in a position where I feel I have a genuine chance to win the tournament if things click.”

He believes golf has been his medicinal solution.

“One thing that became apparent when I was at a stage where I was unsure how much longer I was going to live, was that I was going to enjoy every day I had left. My priorities were my family and what I do for a living.

Michael Hendry winner of the 2017 New Zealand Open. ©Copyright Photo: Chris Symes / www.photosport.nz

“Golf was such a huge part of my recovery in my opinion. The mental drive and the goals push you to do things I wouldn’t necessarily have done in terms of health stuff – like the extra work in the gym – and I am convinced that made a massive difference to my recovery.

“The things driving me were my family and getting to full health to fulfil my responsibility to my kids and be the dad I want to be. And how do I earn money – it’s golf.”

And as he made improvements with his health, so too the hard work in the gym and a more rounded mental approach pay dividends. He has even found a few more metres off the tee as a benefit of his leaner and stronger frame.

“I have seen a massive difference in my mental health and in the way I approach my life on a daily basis. It is much more about maintaining balance and a sense of enjoyment with what I do, even when it is not going perfectly

“I am enjoying golf for what it is and it seems to have helped me with my mental and emotional situation.

“Golf is such a hard game. Skill is 90 percent of it and the more I play, the more I am convinced that the other 10 percent is purely fate.

“One thing for sure is there will be no one happier to be playing that golf tournament next week more than me.”

The field of 156 players will be looking to claim their share of the $2M NZD prize purse in the 103rd New Zealand Open presented by Sky Sport starting on Thursday 29 February at Millbrook Resort, Queenstown. Live coverage will be available on Sky Sport 6.

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