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Steady Hendry holds nerve to win NZ Open

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/03/2017

Michael Hendry has won a three-way play-off to end a lengthy drought and become the first Kiwi to win the New Zealand Open in 14 years.

Hendry fired a final-round two-under 69 to join Australian Brad Kennedy and overnight leader Ben Campbell on 19-under in a three-way sudden-death play-off.

Kennedy and Campbell both found the water at the tricky par-three 18th, which had only yielded six birdies throughout the tournament.

Hendry, first off the tee in the play-off, hit the green then held his nerve to sink the key putts to secure the win.

Kennedy, who had trailed Campbell by one stroke going into the final round, struggled for consistency on Sunday in shooting an even-par 71 which included a double bogey and two bogeys offset by four birdies.

In contrast, Hendry was a model of consistency despite going into the final round two shots astray of Kennedy.

The 37-year-old Japan Tour pro struggled to contain his emotions after sinking the final putt which made him the first Kiwi to win a New Zealand Open since Mahal Pearce in 2003.

"It means the world. For me, other than winning a major, this is the biggest tournament I could win," Hendry said afterwards.

"Just to finally get that monkey off my back with a Kiwi winning - it was very, very special."

Hendry said he had taken a simple approach into the final round.

"My game plan today was to hit as many greens as I could and get every putt to the hole.

"I think I hit 17 greens, so I achieved my game plan pretty well."

Back-to-back eagles at the 16th and 17th of his four-under 67 third round on Saturday were the key to his victory, he added.

"That was the winning of the tournament this week. They gave me the opportunity to execute the game plan that I wanted today.

"Right then and there was when I won the golf tournament."

Behind the top three, Australian Deyen Lawson enjoyed an excellent tournament in finishing fourth on 18-under, a shot ahead of compatriot Jack Wilson.

Five players shared sixth place on 16-under including New Zealand's Ryan Fox, who shot 11-under par on the weekend sparked by his remarkable 63 on Saturday.

Fox, with top caddie Steve Williams on his bag for the first time, shared the slot with defending champion Matthew Griffin, the 2014 winner Dimitrios Papadatos, and fellow Australians James Nitties and Andrew Dodt.

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