For The Players By The Players 2024

Hendry’s a JGTO winner again after nine years

Hendry’s a JGTO winner again after nine years​

Cancer survivor Michael Hendry of New Zealand demonstrated that hope persists even after significant setbacks when he won For The Players by The Players in Gunma on Sunday, ending his nine-year bid for a second JGTO title.

The 44-year-old garnered six points to secure the honour as the tournament's second champion, defeating second-placed Hideto Kobukuro by just one point.

Hendry, who held a four-point advantage overnight, started the day with a crucial eagle on the par-five second hole at The Club Golf Village and never relinquished his lead.

He mixed two more birdies with three bogeys to finish with 38 points, lifting the trophy again after last accomplishing it at the 2015 Token Homemate Cup.

"I'm really happy. It's been a long time since I won at Token. There have been chances to win before, but I haven't been able to seize them, so I'm happy to have won this time," said Hendry.

Reflecting on the events of a year ago, Hendry expressed his desire for nothing more than a second chance at competitive golf after overcoming leukemia.

Little did he anticipate that fate had more in store for him than he had bargained for.

"A year ago, I received the diagnosis of leukemia, and it was a devastating blow. Throughout my hospitalisation, I remained confined to the hospital bed and lost 17kg," recounted Hendry.

"The hospitalisation was about three to four months. I couldn'tplay golf for five months. I was discharged in September and it was not until October before I started playing again.

"I'm truly grateful for this second opportunity in my golfing journey and the chance to return to professional competition

"My current goal is to enjoy golf and cherish time with my family."

The victory held special significance for Hendry, particularly considering that just before his cancer diagnosis a year ago, he was showcasing some of his best golfing performances.

Having secured a runner-up position at the Asian Tour's World City Championship, Hendry continued his good form in the Token Homemate Cup, where he remained in contention until the penultimate stage, ultimately settling for a tied 11th place.

It was shortly after this period that his world was turned upside down upon learning of his diagnosis with blood cancer. 

With golf taking a back seat, he turned his full attention to his treatment, finding unwavering support from his wife and daughter, who became his pillars of strength.

Kokuburo, a one-time ABEMA Tour winner, showcased an impressive performance with 13 points on the final day. 

Despite this, he fell short of victory. Nevertheless, this outing marked Kokuburo's most remarkable achievement on the JGTO circuit, surpassing his tied-ninth finish at the 2021 Dunlop Phoenix. 

In that tournament, he found himself playing in the final group on the final day after tying for second place at the 54-hole mark. 


Reflecting on his performance this time, Kokuburo is proud of how he managed himself throughout the competition.

"I had the experience of being in contention for the title at Dunlop Phoenix. Back then, being in the final group for the first time, I was nervous and tense from the morning, couldn'tplay as well in the first half as I'd hoped, and just managed to make it into the top 10," he said.

"So, being in contention for the title until the end like this time is exciting for me. It's moments like these that make me glad to be a professional golfer."

Leading final round scores:

+38: Michael Hendry (Nzl) +14-+5-+13-+6;

+37: Hideto Kobukuro +7-+5-+12-+13;

+35: Sejung Hiramoto +6-+14--1+16;

+33: Shun Nimura +5-+4-+12-+12, Yuwa Kosaihira +9-+14-+5-+5;

+31: Taisei Shimizu +12-+8-+4-+7, Aguri Iwasaki +11-+2-+11-+7;

+30: Song Young-han (Kor) +14-+7-+3-+6;

+29: Yujiro Ohori +4-+7-+4-+14;

+28: Hiroshi Iwata +6-+11--1+12, Shota Yoshimoto +7-+11-+3-+7, Mikumu Horikawa +9-+10-+3-+6, Yuta Sugiura +8-+9-+6-+5.