Life Changes for Aussie Hensby

By Associated PressApril 8, 2005, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Mark Hensby stood on the wet grass outside the Augusta National clubhouse, looking out at a parking lot filled with luxury cars. Just off the lead in the Masters, his thoughts were drawn back to how he ended up in such a place.
 
Hensby knows a lot about parking lots. For weeks, he used to live in one.
 
Mark Hensby
Mark Hensby and son Chase compete in the Masters Par-3 Contest.
Before this week, Hensby knew nothing about playing in the Masters.
 
'You always hoped,' he said. 'But to play here is a dream come true, no doubt.'
 
So far in the rain-plagued Masters, Hensby has surpassed even his wildest dreams. He birdied his last two holes Thursday for a 69 and the clubhouse lead, then came back with a string of seven straight pars in difficult conditions Friday before storms delayed play once again.
 
There's still plenty of golf left, but one day Hensby can at least claim that he went into the weekend at Augusta National only two shots off the lead.
 
That's better than his two previous claims to fame, which included sleeping on the rooftop of a golf club in Australia and living in his car in the parking lot of a Chicago course for six weeks.
 
Both took place while he pursued his goal of someday playing on the PGA Tour.
 
'If you want something you really want to do you'll go to extremes to do it,' Hensby said.
 
He's certainly done that. He came to the United States 11 years ago with little money in his pocket and only the generosity of some friends in Chicago to count on.
 
When the friends moved away, Hensby was left without a place to stay. He had a car, though, and began sleeping in it next to the driving range of the Cog Hill Golf and Country Club in the Chicago suburb of Lemont.
 
When the nights got cold, Hensby would turn the car on every hour or two and drive around the lot until it warmed up before returning to his spot at the rear of the range.
 
'You begin thinking, is it worth it?' Hensby said. 'But I enjoyed the United States and being over here. I would do anything I could to stay here.'
 
Hensby, who won the Illinois Amateur while in Chicago, eventually went back to his home in the rural Australian town of Tamworth. He returned, though, and finally qualified for the Nationwide Tour in 1997.
 
Hensby made it onto the PGA Tour in 2001, but made only seven cuts in 29 tournaments and went back to the minor league tour. He got his second shot last year and came through big, winning the John Deere Classic in a playoff and finishing 15th on the money list with earnings of $2.7 million.
 
That got him his first invitation to Augusta National, a place he first came to in 1994 as a guest of his Illinois friends.
 
'This was the first tournament I ever saw in America. I had only been here a week,' he said.
 
Hensby and his friends played golf in the morning that year and came to watch the tournament in the afternoon.
 
'I couldn't believe it. I'd never seen a golf course like this,' he said. 'The grass was so green and the greens so pure it was incredible.'
 
At the time, Hensby had about enough money to buy a souvenir hat. Now, he drives a Mercedes and has little to worry about financially.
 
Still, he is a throwback to another era, the son of working class parents now making his living in a country club world.
 
His mother worked in a restaurant, and so did Hensby, washing dishes. He had other jobs, including a stint with the Australian Post delivering mail.
 
'I got chased by a lot of dogs,' he said.
 
His experiences have given him a different outlook on golf and life - one that many of his more pampered counterparts don't have.
 
'I see guys out here who never worked a day in their lives and they're beating people,' Hensby said. 'It's not right, but they don't know any other way. For me, I see both sides.'
 
As for himself, Hensby said: 'My life's a lot easier than it was 10 years ago, but you don't change.'
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - The Masters Tournament
  • Masters Photo Gallery
  • Full Coverage - The Masters Tournament
     
    Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

    Getty Images

    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

    Getty Images

    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

    Getty Images

    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry