North Harbour’s Michael Hendry will fly out to Korea tonight a happy man after bagging a 2.5m birdie putt on the final green to win the Rapid Labels Muriwai Open.
Hendry claimed his third Charles Tour title, holding off a brilliant charge from Auckland professional Richard Lee, who equalled the course record with a six-under 66 to finish a shot behind Hendry.
Both players fly out for Asia with Hendry headed to the One Asia Tour event in Seoul and Lee for two tournaments in Japan.
And both produced golf of the highest quality in an enthralling day.
Hendry, starting the day with a three shot lead, had the field under seemingly control until a bogey at the 16th and a Lee birdie reduced the margin to just one shot. Both players parred the 17th hole before Lee nailed a 7m birdie putt on the 18th to draw level with Hendry on 16-under par for the tournament.
Hendry was up to the challenge, bagging a solid 2.5m birdie to secure the win.
He finished on 17-under, a shot back to Lee with fellow Auckland professional Marcus Wheelhouse firing a four-under 68 today to finish third on 12-under, his best finish as a professional in this country.
Former Waikato professional Brad Shilton enjoyed two rounds of five-under 67 at the weekend to jump up to fourth place on 11-under, one shot ahead of a bevy of players including professionals Dale Clarke (Australia), Mahal Pearce (Dunedin) and Grant Moorhead (New Plymouth) and leading amateurs Daniel Pearce (Hastings) and Scott Wightman (Mangawhai).
Hendry, who finished runner-up at the Tauranga Open after two Charles Tour wins last year, said he was confident over his winning putt.
“I was fairly comfortable with that putt on the last. As soon as Richard stood over his putt I knew he would hole it. He had been putting pressure on all day,” Hendry said.
“I kept saying to myself that I would need to get this to win and luckily I had that attitude or it might have been a different story.”
The 30 year old reckons his game has continued to improve to a stage where he can be competitive in top company.
”I am really happy with the way my game is developing. I am getting consistency which bodes well for the future especially if you want to make money in this game.
“Putting myself in positions to win quite a lot has taught me a lot and will hopefully stand me in good stead.
“I’d like to think it is just a matter of time now before I win a big one. I think I have matured a lot over the last few years and have a consistent game that can do well at the top level.”
Lee too has made big gains in both the Tauranga Open, where he scored that remarkable 59, and this week at Muriwai, a course he rates hugely.
“I would have liked to have won here because it’s such a good course,” Lee said. “I played really well today but just missed a few short putts that made the difference.
“It could have been one of those rounds where I went really deep but still I played well so I am more than happy. Mike is a really good player so good on him. This has given me some confidence now and I am playing well.”
Wheelhouse, a tour player for more than a decade, was thrilled with his effort considering he spends little time on his game as a teaching professional and a new father.
“Attitude is everything when you are playing golf. I’ve got the picket fence and family and someone to care for now so I have some real balance in my life which is great.
“I think as a pro I was always very hard on myself. Now through teaching others I have learned that it was not the way to go and I am calmer. This is fun and I enjoyed it.”
Pearce said he had a point to prove after being dropped from the Srixon Academy last week.
“That was disappointing. But I have been playing well in these last two events and was really happy with my play here. I just have to keep making the scores and hopefully I can get back into the academy,” Pearce said.
The Charles Tour resumes in the spring with the Youthtown Wairakei Open in September.
Leading scores, round 4, Muriwai GC, par 72:
271 Michael Hendry (North Harbour) 67 68 68 68
272 Richard Lee (North Harbour) 68 67 71 66
276 Marcus Wheelhouse (Auckland) 68 70 70
277 Brad Shilton (Auckland) 70 73 67 67
278 Dale Clarke (Whangarei) 68 68 70 72, Grant Moorhead (New Plymouth) 71 69 68 70, Mahal Pearce(Dunedin) 67 72 69 70, Daniel Pearce (a, Hastings) 72 70 67 69, Scott Wightman (a, Mangawhai) 71 68 70 69
279 Douglas Holloway (Hawkes Bay) 68 71 68 72
280 Vaughan McCall (a, Gore) 72 70 68 70, Pieter Zwart (a, Waipukurau) 68 68 76 68
281 Peter Spearman-Burn (a, Miramar) 67 73 71 70, Andy Gang (Auckland) 69 69 75 68
282 Jim Cusdin (Waikato) 73 67 7171
283 Simon Brownlee (a, Gulf Harbour) 69 69 70 75, Steven Heyes (a, New Plymouth) 67 68 73 75, Joshua Carmichael (North Harbour) 71 70 69 73, Ryan Fox (a, Royal Auckland) 67 74 69 73, Peter Fowler (Auckland) 72 72 71 68
284 Andrew Green (Wellington) 69 69 74 72, Gary John Hill (a, Titirangi) 70 73 70 71, Jon Bevitt (Auckland) 70 74 70 70, Leighton James (Hawkes Bay) 72 72 71 69
285 Doug Moores (a, New Plymouth) 69 71 69 76, Ben Campbell (a, Masterton) 70 76 68 71, Mark Purser (Waikato) 69 68 77 71, Andrew Stewart (a, Omokoroa) 74 70 73 68
287 Kevin Budden (a, Waitemata) 73 68 72 74, Cody Harper (a, Invercargill) 70 74 70 73, Brenden Stuart (Wellington) 73 71 70 73, Scott Johnson (a, Muriwai) 70 71 75 71
288 Ben Wallace (a, Royal Auckland) 71 71 71 75, Brad Kendall (a, Mt Maunganui) 75 71 75 67
Final leading women, par 72 (from Saturday):
215 Emily Perry (a, Lochiel) 70 75 70, Cecilia Cho (a, Auckland) 70 70 75
223 Zoe Brake (a, Whakatane) 72 75 76
229 Ye Song Park (a, North Shore) 74 75 80, Phoebe Perrin (a, Waitangi) 71 82 76
230 Rebekah Brownlee (Gulf Harbour) 77 78 75
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