Hend holds upper hand in merit race

Mon 05 Dec 2016

Hend holds upper hand in merit race

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Hong Kong, December 5: Australia’s Scott Hend virtually has one hand on the prestigious Asian Tour’s Order of Merit trophy as the season comes to a climatic close at this week’s US$2 million UBS Hong Kong Open.

The 43-year-old Order of Merit leader holds a sizeable lead of US$302,419 ahead of compatriot and second-ranked Marcus Fraser, who needs a victory at the venerable Hong Kong Golf Club to have any hope of winning the Merit title.

If Fraser wins, Hend can still become the new Asian Tour number one by finishing alone in 13th position at a tournament which he was victorious in 2014 when he pipped Filipino Angelo Que in a play-off.

With two victories at the True Thailand Classic and Queen’s Cup plus three other top-10s this season, big-hitting Hend has accumulated US$996,592 from 10 starts and is poised to become only the fourth player in Asian Tour history to surpass US$1 million in earnings in a season.

India’s Jeev Milkha Singh was the first to hit the seven-figure mark where he earned US$1.45 million in 2008 while Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand hit US$1.12 million in 2013 and reigning Merit champion Anirban Lahiri accumulated US$1.13 million last season.

Fraser, who was victorious in Malaysia earlier this season, has earned US$694,173 this season. In recent tournaments, he has conceded that Hend will become the new number one.

Scott Hend of Australia Scott Hend of Australia

A winner’s cheque of US$333,330 awaits the 2016 UBS Hong Kong Open champion on Sunday.

Should Hend complete his ascension to number one on Sunday, it would cap a truly impressive career in Asia as he has won nine Asian Tour titles, finished runner-up on the Order of Merit twice and was fourth on three other occasions since making his debut in 2007.

By far, Hend is also the most successful international golfer on the Asian Tour and has won the eight tournaments over the last five years, the most by any player during the same time.

“As the UBS Hong Kong Open is the final event on the Asian Tour, it would be fantastic for me to produce my best stuff there and seal the Order of Merit title for the first time in my career. It would really cap a great year for me,” said Hend.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to win nine times in Asia. I’m from Australia and I’m very close to Asia, and being able to win the Order of Merit, it’s just a goal of mine to achieve.”

Fraser and Hend will have to contend against a strong line-up of stars at the UBS Hong Kong Open as they go head-to-head for the Order of Merit battle.

Title holder Justin Rose of England, who is also the Olympic Games gold medalist, will return to defend his title while other top stars in field include Patrick Reed of the United States, Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain, Ian Poulter of England and Masters Tournament champion Danny Willet of England

The Asian Tour field will be strong with Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Thongchai Jaidee, Liang Wen-chong of China, Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines as well as India’s Jyoti Randhawa and Arjun Atwal, all former Asian Tour number ones, challenging for honours.

More than 40 Asian Tour champions will be at the Hong Kong Golf Club in hope of ending the season on a high note.

As the final tournament of the season, the Hong Kong showpiece will also see players fighting to keep their Tour cards with the likes of Mardan Mamat of Singapore, Scott Barr of Australia, Chinnarat Phadungsil of Thailand and Javi Colomo of Spain being in the top-60 bubble.

Entry to the first two rounds of this year's tournament on Thursday 8 and Friday 9 December will be free of charge. Those aged under 21 will be admitted free of charge for all four days of the tournament, as the organisers push to introduce the game to wider segments of the Hong Kong community in 2016.

Following the success of the inaugural event last year, the UBS Hong Kong Open Charity Cup will return on 14 December with local singer and artist, Alan Tam, as Official Ambassador. The HK$2.3 million was raised in 2015 for three local charities, making it the most successful fundraising initiative for the entire European Tour season.

About UBS Group AG

UBS provides financial advice and solutions to wealthy, institutional and corporate clients worldwide, as well as private clients in Switzerland. The operational structure of the Group is comprised of our Corporate Center and five business divisions: Wealth Management, Wealth Management Americas, Personal & Corporate Banking, Asset Management and the Investment Bank. UBS's strategy builds on the strengths of all of its businesses and focuses its efforts on areas in which it excels, while seeking to capitalize on the compelling growth prospects in the businesses and regions in which it operates, in order to generate attractive and sustainable returns for its shareholders. All of its businesses are capital-efficient and benefit from a strong competitive position in their targeted markets.

UBS is present in all major financial centers worldwide. It has offices in 54 countries, with about 34% of its employees working in the Americas, 35% in Switzerland, 18% in the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Africa and 13% in Asia Pacific. UBS Group AG employs approximately 60,000 people around the world. Its shares are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

www.ubs.com

About Mega Events Fund

This year the “UBS Hong Kong Open” is sponsored by the Mega Events Fund of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government. The Fund was set up in 2009 to support mega arts, cultural, sports and entertainment events to be staged in Hong Kong. With the approval from the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council, the operation of the Fund has been extended for five years until the end of March 2017 with a view to attracting more internationally acclaimed mega events to Hong Kong and reinforcing Hong Kong’s position as the events capital of Asia.

 

About the Asian Tour

As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include ECCO (Official Footwear Sponsor), FENIX XCell (Official Apparel Supplier), Hilton Worldwide (Official Hotel Partner), Titleist (Official Web Partner), Bloomberg TV (Official International Media Sponsor), Bloomberg Businessweek Chinese (Official Business Publication Sponsor) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). Sentosa, Singapore is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur.

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www.asiantour.com

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About The European Tour

The European Tour celebrates men’s professional golf on a global stage. In 2016, the European Tour International Schedule features 47 tournaments in 27 countries, all part of the Race to Dubai, the year-long competition which crowns the European Tour Number One at the end of the season, a title claimed in 2015 by Rory McIlroy for the third time.

Since its formation in 1972, the European Tour has witnessed 25 Members celebrate a total of 51 Major Championship titles between them, enjoyed ten Members attaining the pinnacle of World Number One and has celebrated its diversity as players from 36 different countries have won on Tour. The European Tour also manages the Challenge Tour, which features 28 tournaments in 22 countries in 2016, and the Senior Tour, which features 13 tournaments in nine countries in 2016. It is also the Managing Partner of Ryder Cup Europe, the body which, alongside the PGA of America, administers golf’s greatest team contest, The Ryder Cup. The European Tour broadcasts live coverage of its tournaments to over 490 million homes in more than 150 countries every week, generating in excess of 2200 global broadcast hours for each event. It also enjoys the support of many of the world’s leading business brands with Rolex, BMW, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Emirates and Titleist as Official Partners.