THE TRAVEL: Mark Hensby & # 039; s long way to The Lakes

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Mark Hensby came through qualifying and in the field for #AusOpenGolf. Image: Getty

He is the man with the most extraordinary trip to the #AusOpenGolf this year.

Mark Hensby has just spent a year in which he barely picked up a golf club; in suspension because he had missed a drug test in the United States, irritated that his family had to deal with the resulting publicity and wondered if he would ever play.

But his suspension of 12 months, imposed by the American PGA Tour, expired last month and last Monday at Carnarvon Golf Club he shot 68 to make his way through qualifying and to the # AusOpenGolf pitch in The Lakes. Tomorrow he will play it for the first time in an Open since 2007 at The Australian, when Craig Parry won.

To think that it is far-fetched, it is softly expressed.

He had asked for exemption from a sponsor and the silence was deafening, so he stayed in Australia and chose to take part in the qualification. Ironically, 47-year-old Hensby knew his way in Carnarvon. "I won a (NSW) country championship when I was about 18 or 19," he said. "The trees are a bit bigger now! It was probably at least 27 years ago." & # 39;

Hensby's record suggests that he is one of the better players in the field. In 2005, his best season, he finished with a shared fifth place in the Masters at Augusta National, with a shared third place in the US Open in Pinehurst and a shared 15th place in the Open Championship in St Andrews, threw himself in the top 30 of the world ranking.

But a serious injury due to a car accident and a silence in the form followed, and in 2017 he was ready to quit the game. Then came the suspension after his brain had vanished in Jackson, Mississippi, in October 2017 during the Sanderson Farms Championship, where he went to the drug testing area after a bad first round, was forced to wait and told the testers that he would return the next day . Because the rules of the tour state that skipping a test is the same as a test, he has violated a 12-month ban.

Hensby came out and explained himself, arguing, "Call me stupid, but do not call me a cheater."

But it hurt him to hear his sons Chase 19, and Caden 7 and his wife Kim were publicly questioned about his behavior. "What matters is whether I won five or six tournaments and decided not to do it (the test), that would be a very different problem, but I made $ 20,000 in five years. cheating! That's the most laughable thing about me.

"The only thing shameful was how it came out in the press and my children had to deal with it, my family had to deal with it, that was the biggest, hardest thing it meant to me, they got questions from people, that's hard for them to answer questions, it is on me, not on them. "

Hensby stopped playing all together until six months after his suspension, when he returned from his adopted hometown Scottsdale, Arizona to his homeland Tamworth and his brother Darren convinced him to go out and play. He also hit it nicely and then remembered: "Maybe I'm going to hit some balls & # 39 ;.

Competitive fires were gradually stoked. When he returned to the tournament game at the NSW Open last week, he shot a 64 in the second round, but he was still not happy with how he played. He knows he's rusty … so rusty.

"The first six months I have not touched a club," he said. "You know what, to be honest, I've watched a few things, golf-related things, but they did not go anywhere, it's clear that you can teach, but unless they're really good players … I would young children want to teach with aspirations to be undoubtedly a pro.

"The important thing is that I do not have a lot of consistency, it's hard at the moment, you're looking at the best player in the world (Tiger Woods), or the best player I've seen anyway, and he took a year off and watched as long as he did to come back in. Someone like me, it's going to take a little bit of time, and honestly I'm getting ready for the senior tour if I want to play it. & # 39;

This week his expectations have been tempered. He escapes at 7.45 am tomorrow morning. "A lot depends on the circumstances," he said. "If it's hard, you never know, I'd like it to be windy, what's predicted, I think." & # 39;

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