Golf: Kiwi Hendry primed for Jakarta defence

JAKARTA - New Zealand's multi-talented Michael Hendry has warned he is on the brink of rediscovering top form as he bids to defend his title at the one-million-dollar Indonesia Open starting on Thursday.

But he faces stiff competition from China's Liang Wenchong, who topped the OneAsia 2010 Order of Merit, Shigeki Maruyama of Japan, Irishman Paul McGinley, Danny Chia from Malaysia and South Korea's Han Chang-Won.

"My game is not far away from coming together," said Hendry, 31, who recorded a magnificent seven-stroke victory over Liang last year at Damai Indah Golf Club, in Jakarta.

That was the first - and last - big career victory for Hendry, who is also a talented cricketer, turning out for New Zealand's under-19 team before he settled on golf.

"It is very close - to the point where every part of my game is working in unison," he said of his timely return to form. "I am driving the ball really well and I feel the rest of my game is not far off.

"It certainly was a breakthrough that has allowed me to play with a new level of confidence. The fact that I have not won since then doesn't worry me."

Hendry played with Liang in the final group last year, and when the Chinese was asked how he rated the New Zealander's victory, he joked: "I want to know if Michael will drive as long and straight this week and hole all the putts."

The Indonesia Open is the seventh event on OneAsia this year.

This week marks the first time that Maruyama, nicknamed the "Smiling Assassin", has competed in Jakarta and the 42-year-old Japanese star is looking forward to the challenge.

"It feels great to be here. I am recovering from a calf injury I got after playing basketball with my son at home in February. I didn't play for well over a month so I have gradually been working my way back," he said.

Local hopes rest on the young shoulders of Rory Hie, who already has a runner-up finish on home soil under his belt this season after he finished second behind Australia's Andre Stolz in the Indonesia PGA Championship.

"I feel like I am in control of my game. I have been working very hard, particularly on my tempo," said the 22-year-old.

"I feel like I can hit all the fairways and greens in regulation. Of course it doesn't always happen that way, but at least that is how I feel, which is a very positive sign."