Mark Hensby during today’s final round – photo USGA Steve Gibbons
Australian Mark Hensby has produced an outstanding week of golf to finish alone in third place at the US Senior Open at the Saucon Valley Country Club in Pennsylvania, the soon to be (Wednesday) 51-year-old finishing the event with two late birdies after a mid-round collapse threatened to derail an otherwise potentially career changing week.
Hensby, born in Victoria but raised in Tamworth before heading to the USA in the mid 1990’s where he would eventually play and win on the PGA Tour and make a Presidents Cup side, recorded his best finish in just four starts on the PGA Tour Champions.
His previous best was when 8th at the Senior PGA Championship last month and if he can find a way to gain full playing credentials on the PGA Tour Champions then this talented golfer might well have a resurgence of a career that has been plagued by injury and bad luck since his halcyon days of the mid 2000’s.
Hensby has won three events on the Korn Ferry Tour and in 2004 won the John Deere Classic before winning the Scandinavian Masters in 2005 and making the Presidents Cup side that same year.
But his promising career was thwarted by a car accident in early 2006, the aftermath of which plagued his immediate playing future and there have been other issues including a suspension by the PGA Tour for refusing to follow drug testing protocol.
He is, though, an extremely talented player and this week’s performance might just be the catalyst for ongoing success on the PGA Tour Champions provided he can and should he have the desire to gain access to status there.
Without status on the PGA Tour Champions, Hensby gained a start in this week’s US Senior Open courtesy of finishing runner-up at a qualifying venue in Texas and he made the most of the opportunity finishing behind only the winner, Padraig Harrington and the highly credentialed Steve Stricker.
“Tiring, it got really tiring towards the end,” said Hensby when asked to describe the week. “I think it’s difficult when you know you’re not going to have a chance to win, but you’re not making any — you know, play as aggressive as you can without being stupid.
“It (the course) is a test. For me it didn’t feel like it was a really long golf course, but as you’re well aware, as everybody’s watching, if you miss it in the wrong spot it’s just not good.
“The greens, I found, were really fast the second day. Third day, yesterday, not as fast. Today they were kind of firm and fast. Yeah, it’s just a tricky golf course.”
Typically enigmatic, Hensby added, when made aware that this finish will get him a start next year; “I’m not sure I’m going to play much golf after this year, so if I do, obviously it’s there. Yeah, we’ll see.”
Perhaps the US$267,000 he earned for finishing 3rd might help his decision making.
The 2022 US Senior Open Champion Padraig Harrington – photo USGA