Hendry holds firm to win Vic Open

Michael Hendry made the most of a sizable buffer to win the 2023 Vic Open title by four shots as he finished 21-under par at 13th Beach on Sunday.

The New Zealander was rock solid with an even-par final round of 72 to finish ahead of Order of Merit leader David Micheluzzi and claim a drought-breaking victory fresh off battling a shoulder injury.

“It’s been a while. The last time I won on the Aussie Tour was the 2017 New Zealand Open so it was nice to get across the line again,” Hendry said.

“It’s just nice to be feeling fit and proving to myself that I’ve still got it.”

Hendry held a three-shot advantage at the beginning of the day, but that margin quickly blew out to seven as he made a birdie on the opening hole, while his overnight nearest rival Justin Warren made a triple bogey.

That early twist gave the 43-year-old valuable breathing space to play risk averse golf for the remainder of the day in the very blustery conditions on the Beach Course, but it was not all smooth sailing.

Hendry made a birdie at the second but he received a lucky break at the par 3 third when he made par after his tee shot hit a spectator and rolled onto the green when it was headed deep into the shrub.

“If you’re going to win golf tournaments, you’re going to get a bit of luck at some stage,” he said.

“Golf is one of those games where you have to accept that luck is part of the game. It went my way today and I’m obviously very happy about that.”

Back-to-back bogeys at the seventh and eighth provided a glimmer of hope to his rivals but a steadying par at the ninth meant Hendry’s lead at the turn was still six shots.

Four straight pars to start the back nine protected that margin before a birdie at 14 all but killed off any potential contest.

“I thought 72 was going to be pretty hard to beat,” Hendry said.

“Someone was going to have to play unbelievable golf out there today. It was so tricky. Trying to judge the clubs into the green was just about impossible at times.”

Hendry’s win was set up earlier in the week however with as he put himself in contention with a first round 64 before he captured the lead with a barnstorming second round 62 on the Creek Course.

From then on, he would not move from the top of the leaderboard with a third round 69 setting up his victory-clinching final round and a shot at further opportunities overseas via the Order of Merit.

“Now that I’ve given myself a decent chance to have a good finish on this tour, it’d be really great to finish off the season well and push for a really good finish on the Order of Merit. Which would allow me some stuff overseas that I haven’t really thought too much about,” Hendry said.

“At least now I’ve got the opportunity. The other goal would be to finish off my Covid starts in Japan well, retain that card and get back to doing what I do.”

Micheluzzi continued his sensational summer that started with victory in the first event of the season at the WA PGA and now consists of seven top-10 finishes from nine starts.

The Victorian strung together rounds of 67, 66, 69 and 69 to boost his hopes of securing one of the DP World Tour cards available to the top three eligible players on the Order of Merit at season’s end.

Four starts are required to be eligible and Micheluzzi is currently in second place behind Fortinet Australian PGA Championship winner Cameron Smith who has only played two events.

Andrew Martin and Tom Power Horan also continued their hot streaks as they finished in a share of third alongside Justin Warren at 14-under par.

Victorian PGA Championship winner Martin and Gippsland Super 6 champion Power Horan are second and third respectively among eligible players on the Order of Merit, and like Micheluzzi they took another step toward securing a DP World Tour card.

A further shot back in a tie for sixth were Elvis Smylie and Douglas Klein, while low amateur honours went to South Australian Jack Buchanan who finished 11-under par with rounds of 64, 67, 70 and 76.

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