Mark Hensby – file photo courtesy of Golf NSW

US based Australian, Mark Hensby, gets his chance to play the PGA Tour Champions when he takes on the Final Stage of Qualifying in Florida this week.

At the halfway stage of the 72 hole test at the TPC Tampa Bay, Hensby finds himself in 21st place needing to finish inside the top 5 to secure full status.

Hensby fought back from a near disastrous triple bogey at his 7th hole today for a round of 73 but he will likely need to match his opening round of 68 over each of the final two rounds to have any chance.

Hensby, a former winner on the PGA, European and Korn Ferry (3) Tours, a Presidents Cup player in 2005 and a top 30 world ranked player, has a had a career plagued by injury but at his best he not only won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but the 2005 Scandinavian Masters where he defeated Henrik Stenson in a playoff.

In that same season (2005) he recorded top fives at the Masters and US Open Championships (both on debut) but just a few months later, after representing the International side in the Presidents Cup, he suffered significant injuries in a car accident, curtailing a career which offered so much promise at the time.

Born in Victoria but raised in Tamworth until leaving for the US at the age of 23, he fought his way to the PGA Tour in 2001 after winning events such as the Illinois State Championship as an amateur in 1994 and the Illinois State Open in 1996 and then finishing runner-up on the Korn Ferry Tour (then Buy.Com Tour) in 2000.

No sooner had he gained his PGA Tour playing rights for 2001 than he lost them but was back on the PGA Tour in 2003 after again graduating from the Korn Ferry Tour.

Hensby is very much a self-made man who took a punt on travelling to the US as an unheralded amateur but has often been an outspoken individual whose stance against the PGA Tour’s anti-doping policy in 2017 cost him a twelve-month suspension from the PGA Tour.

“The PGA Tour announced today (Monday) that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year,” a Tour statement read at the time.

Hensby responded by saying “Call me stupid but don’t call me a cheater.”

The now 50-year-old has played 17 events on either the Korn Ferry or PGA Tours in 2020 and 2021 and while he has made only five cuts in that time he has very importantly continued, despite limited status, to compete and his performance this week will be watched with interest.