When Henson won at Wack Wack | Asian Tour

When Henson won at Wack Wack

Published on May 15, 2021

Berry Henson is virtually a household name on the Asian Tour, and it all started for the popular American during this month of May a decade ago.

In fact, it was on this very day in 2011 – shortly after having made it through Qualifying School, in 11th place – that he marched to victory in Manila, claiming the ICTSI Philippine Open, at Wack Wack Golf and Country Club.

Winning the National Open of the Philippine’s is a rare privilege as it is one of the oldest National Opens in the game – in 2011 it was the 95th edition of the tournament – and Henson was made to work very hard to secure the title.

Despite suffering from dehydration over the closing holes during the third round, he finished the day with a two-shot lead, and then fired a final round one-over-par 73 to narrowly beat local-favourite Jay Bayron from the Philippines by a single shot.

Henson celebrates during the final round of the Philippine Open on May 15, 2011 in Manila, Philippines. (Photo by Khalid Redza/Asian Tour via Getty Images)

Henson made a brave up-and-down at the last, holing a tension-packed putt for par from three feet, to win with a four-round total of five-under-par 283 – on the notoriously difficult East Course.

“I feel like I went 72 rounds with Manny Pacquiao this week and didn’t get KO’d,” Henson said, after his win. “I played on a very difficult golf course and the weather was brutal. It was a hard win.”

He earned US$47,550 with the victory.

South Africa’s Jbe Kruger finished third, while Digvijay Singh from India was fourth.

Henson held a three-shot lead heading into the back nine, but bogeys on 12 and 17 opened the door for Bayron.

Henson plays a shot during day three of Philippine Open (Photo by Khalid Redza/Asian Tour via Getty Images)

“We were all struggling to make birdies and stay aggressive on the back nine,” Henson said. “I made a couple of mistakes coming in but everything worked out for me on the last hole.”

Bayron made an eagle on the second, but bogeys on 14 and 15 were setbacks from which he could not recover.

“Honestly, I was playing for second after the 15th hole,” said the 2005 Southeast Asian Games team gold medallist. “I tried to keep the thought of winning out of my mind for the entire round. Finishing second is a good result for me and I hope to build on this confidence.”

Henson was 31 years old at the time and it was the culmination of a remarkable and inspiring start to his journey in Asia.

Just two weeks before winning in the Philippines he had claimed the Clearwater Masters, in Malaysia, on the Asian Development Tour.

This came on the back of him having arrived at the Qualifying School with just US$5,000 in his bank account.

Said Benson, in an interview more recently: “I had one sponsor and he said, ‘hey it’s sink or swim, we either get a card or we are done’.”