Hendry stretches lead to six

By Andrea Petrie

New Zealand’s Michael Hendry has stretched his tournament lead out to eleven under at the Victorian Open after carding a five-under 66 at Spring Valley today. 
Despite starting his second round with bogey, just as he did yesterday, he remains six shots ahead of his closest rival, Sydney’s Scott Arnold, at five under. Hendry’s afternoon round included seven birdies and only two bogeys on the 10th (his first hole), and the third.
“I don’t care,” he joked of his birdie on the first hole. “If I keep shooting scores like that I’ll do it on purpose.
“I had a good shot at 10 but the (practice) putting green was a lot faster than the greens on the golf course and both myself and (Daniel) Popovic who I was playing with, both tipped it short just simply because of the difference between the two greens I think. It’s just one of those things.”

He said he thought his second round was better than his first.
“I hit the ball a bit better off the tee and my irons are still really solid and my putting looked great, so hopefully I can continue to putt the way I have,” he said.
But despite his lead, Hendry said he wasn’t getting ahead of himself just yet. 
“At 36 holes we’re only half way done,” he said. “Six shots is not a lot of shots when there’s 36 holes to play. If it was two holes to play I’d probably consider it a lead, but at this stage I can do nothing wrong and still lose.
“I’ve got to just keep doing my job and hopefully get to a point where I can continue with this form and win the tournament rather than let someone else catch me.”
Arnold also shot 66 despite the tournament marking only his third time on a sandbelt course.
“I just played really solid. I only missed a couple of greens and got up-and-down except for one and made a few good putts,” he said.
He had six birdies, his only bogey on the fourth.
“I actually hit it on the green and it was a good shot but it rolled off the back,” he said. “It was all right. I made a few good putts after that.”
In terms of his putting, Arnold said in addition to a few good close ones, “I holed a few 15-20 footers as well, which helped. The greens are nice so if you’re putting well you can hole a few out there.”
A OneAsia player, who has also played Challenge Tour events in Europe, said he was hoping to get on to the main European tour. In terms of where his game is headed, Arnold said considering his age “It can only get better”.
“It’s getting a lot better and I’ve been doing a lot of work with Alex Mercer the last six months and it’s really starting to show, so I’m glad.
“I’ve got to the stage where I can now trust my swing all the time and know if I hit it left or right I know what I’m doing wrong so I can fix it straight away. I think that’s helped a lot.”
Aussies Mark Ballard and Kurt Barns are tied in third place at three under heading into the third round. The top 51 pros and three amateurs made the cut, which was four over.

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