Golf: Michael Hendry eyes another NZ Open title after beating leukemia to reach startline

Just a matter of months ago, Michael Hendry was unsure if he would even be healthy enough to make it to the first tee at the New Zealand Open.  

Last year, the former champion was diagnosed with leukemia, but now cancer free, he's setting his sights on a second open title.  

Hendy's part of a fan favourite pairing on Thursday, playing alongside local Queenstown hope Ben Campbell.  

There's no denying Hendry's drive. His 12-month battle with cancer has been greater than any challenge he's faced on the golf course.

Michael Hendry.
Michael Hendry. Photo credit: Getty Images

"I learnt that I was a lot stronger than I thought I was," he said. "Mentally definitely. Maybe not so much emotionally.  

"It was a real emotional rollercoaster, and I had to fight through some pretty bad days."  

Now he's onto better ones, his last biopsy came back negative on any trace of leukemia.  

"There's a good chance that people are gonna be stuck with me a fair bit longer," he quipped. "So it's funny, all of a sudden the goals change."  

The top one? Winning a second New Zealand Open.  

Meanwhile, his playing partner for the next two days is looking for number one.  

This year, Ben Campbell has been mixing it with the best as a travelling reserve on the LIV tour.  

And if that were to happen, it could lead to Campbell scoring himself a massive pay day – not that he's wishing harm on his rivals.  

"I've just got to be there, and if someone gets injured, then I step in," he said.  

"In Mexico, a few of the guys got a bit sick, so I thought I was going to get a game.   

"But no, everyone pulled through."  

While the NZ Open may not carry LIV like prizemoney, a win would come with a huge amount of satisfaction.

Campbell has twice finished runner-up, and being from Queenstown attracts a vocal crowd in support.    

"It's a good feeling," he said. "Everyone gets right behind you.  

"So hopefully, come the weekend, we can do that again."  

Expect a healthy atmosphere when the feel good story, and the local hope begin their tournament on Thursday.