by Rod Morri
It was nice for Mark Hensby just to talk about golf for a change.
An 8-under 64 in the second round of the AVJennings NSW Open finally shifted the focus from his worldwide ban from the game last year to more comfortable territory and the former PGA Tour winner couldn’t have been happier about it.
Playing just his second tournament round since October 26 last year, Hensby vaulted more than 50 places up the leaderboard at Twin Creeks Golf and Country Club with his effort seeing him inside the top 10 as the afternoon field teed off.
But more important for the 48-year-old was the signal that his golf career, put on hold after he failed to give a urine sample at the PGA Tour’s Sanderson Farms Championship in 2017, has begun again in earnest.
“It’s funny,” he said after holing a less than straightforward four-foot par putt at the 18th to match the best score among the morning players.
“It’s like anything…if you can get some momentum going and just ride it then you never lose that and it kind of just fell into place today.
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“I made some really long putts early then got on a really good run on that front nine. I birdied 8 and 9 to go to the turn 2-under then got on 11 and hit it to a foot for eagle and went 5-under through six holes.”
He said despite playing no competitive golf for more than a year he was pleased as much with his thought processes as his physical playing.
“I think I felt more pressure towards the end no doubt,” he said. “You get in a position when you’re 8-under with four to go and you’re thinking ‘geez can I shoot 60 or 59 maybe’.
“Then you start thinking about it a little bit more where probably a few years ago I wouldn’t have. But I’m excited to be here for the weekend and pleased that I was thinking that way.”
He said qualifying for the final two rounds had been a high priority at the start of the week and having achieved that he would simply take whatever comes on Saturday and Sunday.
“The idea for me, obviously not playing much, is to play and have four solid rounds and see where it leaves me,” he said.
“And if you get in contention then so be it. Just four solid rounds would be nice and something to feed off for the beginning of next year.”
Hensby admitted it was nice for the focus to be back on his score after what has been a difficult time.
“It is nice to talk about golf for a change,” he said. “It’s been a long year but being in a position to talk about golf is nice.”