Michael Hendry's big chance

Source: Ari Marcus - WRX Golf Digest

It will be a very telling week at the WGC Cadillac Championship for Michael Hendry, as the relatively unknown 33-year-old from New Zealand enters the tournament playing the most consistent golf of his career.

Hendry has finished inside the top 10 in nine of his last 12 events, and is yet to finish outside the top 5 in 2013.

Hendry earned his way into this week’s field by way of his second-place finish on the 2012 Australasian Tour Order of Merit, and looks to continue his strong play as he tees it up against a field that includes 49 of the top 50 players in the world.

“Obviously the depth of the field this week is stronger,” Hendry said. “It’ll just be nice to go and play well.”

If it weren’t for a shoulder injury, Hendry most likely would never have found himself playing in the same field as his favorite golfer Tiger Woods. Hendry took up golf at age 12 and played amateur golf through his early twenties, however it was cricket that was his first professional sport. He was a talented bowling all-rounder and represented New Zealand in the Under-19 cricket World Cup, and after signed a contract to play professionally in England.

For a short time, Hendry was playing both professional cricket and professional golf, but in 2005, about a year after he turned pro as a golfer, Hendry suffered a shoulder injury while bowling that would end his cricket career.

What seemed like a devastating injury at the time may have actually proved a blessing in disguise, as the shoulder injury caused Hendry to turn his full attention to golf. He is currently the top-ranked male golfer in New Zealand, but despite his great play he has been overshadowed by 15-year-old phenom Lydia Ko, who has won three women’s professional tournaments as an amateur since August 2012.

Hendry has known Ko since she was six years old. They both train at the Institute of Golf, New Zealand’s premier golf academy. Hendry takes instruction under the watchful eye of Craig Dixon, one of the founders of the Institute of Golf. Ko’s coach is IOG instructor Guy Wilson was a groomsman at Hendry’s wedding.

“[Lydia] is inspiring,” Hendry said. “It tells the rest of us that we can put a little more work in and work all that harder. There’s no reason that we, a small country in the corner of the Pacific, can’t produce world-class golfers like Lydia”.

Hendry ‘s ultimate goal is to play on the PGA Tour full-time. He says he will take his opportunities when he gets them and hopes to get out on the PGA Tour eventually.

Right now, he is considering the Web.com Tour, but his current full-status on the Japan Golf Tour makes that a more attractive avenue at the moment. Hendry said he will “wait and see how things go and make my decision closer to Q-School time.”