Returning Hensby in contention in Alabama

While several Australians are contending for glory at The Open Championship at St Andrews, another is making his comeback count at a PGA Tour event in Alabama.

Mark Hensby is 12-under-par, one shot off leaders Ricky Barnes and Scott Piercy heading into the final round of the Barbasol Championship, his first PGA tournament since 2013.

Hensby, who had a share of the lead after 36 holes with Korean Kim Whee carded a three-under 68, finishing in a flurry with an eagle at the par-five 16th sandwiched in between birdies at par fours 14 and 18 and another birdie at the par-three 17th.

The finish was in stark contrast to the way Hensby began his round, making bogeys at the second and sixth holes.

The 43-year-old burst onto the US scene when winning the 2004 John Deere Classic before finishing fifth in his debut at the US Masters in 2005 and third in his maiden US Open at Pinehurst No.2 during that same year.

A car crash in 2006 halted his progress and a subsequent shoulder injuries saw Hensby fall well away in terms of performance and his tournaments played dwindled from 12 in 2010 to six a year later, two in 2012 and just one in 2013.

In speaking about his comeback, Hensby told The Montgomery Advertiser he still felt he belonged.

“You always sit back and hope you get an opportunity in any tournament,” Hensby said.

“It’s great. I always feel I’ve belonged out here. I’ve proven I belong out here. I’ve played Presidents Cup and all that.

“But you have to prove yourself every year.”

As to why he hasn’t played a PGA Tour event for two years, Hensby said he’s been healthy, but simply has not been given the opportunity after failing to get his card back through Q-School.

“In between (shoulder surgeries), I was trying to get back and play,” he said.

“It was a long process. I’ve been healthy the last two years, but I had nowhere to play.”

Hensby will tee off on Sunday alongside US journeyman Vaughn Baker, who has a top 10 at the Masters, from 2007, while just a few groups ahead of them will be Aaron Baddeley.

Baddeley shot a seven-under 64 in his third round to vault himself into contention and will start the final round five shots off the pace.

Joining Hensby one back are Americans Jason Gore and Will Willcox, Argentine Emiliano Grillo and Kim.

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