A six under par from New Zealand’s Michael Hendry earned him top spot on the leaderboard for the opening round of the Men’s Victorian Open today, carding a 65 at Spring Valley Golf Club.
The 32-year-old Kiwi took advantage of the calm morning conditions to shoot nine birdies, with bogeys on only the first, 10th and 18th holes.
“I think maybe a bit of a holiday did me good,” Hendry said. “I was a bit stale at the end of last year and I was playing pretty bad and haven’t done much over the Christmas New Year break and all of a sudden, I suppose the demons disappear after a couple of weeks and I’ve been able to not worry about bad shots.”
Hendry, who also played for New Zealand’s under-19 cricket team and later represented Auckland before he chose to focus on his golf, said he was hoping to improve on last year’s form, which was disappointing compared to previous year.
His 2010 achievements included winning One Asia’s Indonesian and Fijian Opens.
“Four years ago if you told me I’d have the year I had last year I wouldn’t have believed you, but after 2010, your expectations get higher, the goals get bigger and when you don’t achieve them, you berate yourself for them and it affects your confidence,” he said.
“Last year I floundered a lot around 20-25th position. I was picking up plenty of money but it’s not where I want to be.
“Picking up cheques is nice, but you want to be winning tournaments and competing for championships.”
Meanwhile, veteran Craig Parry finished with five under par to put him outright second, despite hobbling off the course with nasty blisters on each foot courtesy of new shoes he wore during his practice round on Tuesday.
“It was a nice start. Obviously the wind didn’t blow early this morning and it was quite calm out there, the greens were good, perceptive and you just had to hit it on the greens and they were rolling through and I made the most of it.”
Parry said he was pleased with his short game as was his use of the flat stick.
“My putting was very good and I don’t class that as one of my strengths but today it was pretty good.”
Rika Batibasaga (Qld) finished third with three under, while Jeremy Loomes (Vic), Tim Hart (Qld), Daniel Popovic (Vic), Leigh McKechnie (NSW), Tony McNaughton (Vic), Max McArdle (SA) and amateur Nathan Holman (Vic) all tied for fourth with 69 for their first rounds.
McArdle finished with the best afternoon score – and was the only one to finish below par – after the wind whipped up a treat.
He described his round as a “tough”.
“The wind’s up, the greens are pretty firm and there are some tight pins out there so it’s pretty easy to run up a bogey or a double if you miss your shot,” he said. “I putted pretty well which is the key when it’s windy, which was good.”
McArdle said he was hoping for a good 2012.
“I had not a bad year last year, which was my first year out… which got me some One Asia status,” he said. “I had a couple of weeks off over Christmas and New Year’s and I’m feeling fresh and ready to go for hopefully a better year this year.”
McArdle said he hoped to make the most of calm conditions in the morning, adding that “anything can happen”.
The Women’s Victorian Open will get under way tomorrow, with the 54-hole event beginning at nearby Woodlands Golf Club.
Top Australians including Stacey Keating, Lindsey Wright, Tamie Durdin, Kristie Smith and Frances Bondad will take on the likes of international players including Norway’s Marianne Skarpnord.
The final 36 holes will be played at Spring Valley alongside the men’s Open at the weekend.