Looking Back: Hend triumphs #VenetianMacaoOpen

Tue 11 Oct 2016

Looking Back: Hend triumphs #VenetianMacaoOpen


Macao, October 11: Twelve months ago, Australian Scott Hend won the Venetian Macao Open for the second time in his career after another close tussle with India’s Anirban Lahiri. Asiantour.com looks back at the 2015 edition. The Venetian Macao Open will be played this week.

Revenge could have easily been top of the agenda when Scott Hend returned for the US$1 million Venetian Macao Open in 2015.

Twelve months prior, the wheel of fortune did not turn in his favour as he made a bold bid for back-to-back triumphs at the Macau Golf and Country Club, lipping out a par putt on the 72nd hole to hand a one-stroke victory to his great rival and friend, Anirban Lahiri of India.

After he seized a three-shot lead going into the final round against Lahiri this time around, the 42-year-old Australian made it crystal clear his priority was different.

“No revenge,” Hend responded with a smile when asked by a golf writer if that was on his mind.

“All there is are rewards ... a different ‘R’ word.”

The big-hitting Hend was duly rewarded the next day after producing yet another master class at a venue which previously was a jinx during his early days in Asia.

Anirban Lahiri of India Anirban Lahiri of India

With a second Venetian Macao Open title in three years, he joined Chinese great Zhang Lian-wei as the only two-time champion of the tournament, which offered a record US$1 million in prize fund.

Hend pocketed the champion’s cheque of US$180,000 with a tournament record of 20-under-par 264 and in the past three editions, he is now a staggering 52-under-par at the Macau venue.

“The first few times I came here, I just didn’t want to come back as it killed me,” he recalled. “But we’ve seem to found a way to play the course, where to hit it, what to do, and when to be aggressive.”

The longest hitter on Tour over the past few seasons, Hend used his great length from off the tees to devastating effect and took charge of the tournament with two eagles during a third round of 64 which gave him a handsome lead.

He never relinguished the advantage despite the challenges from Lahiri and India’s Chiragh Kumar.

“The first few times I came here, I just didn’t want to come back as it killed me. But we’ve seem to found a way to play the course, where to hit it, what to do, and when to be aggressive.” - Scott Hend

“Feel relieve and rewarded as I’ve worked hard the last few weeks in Europe,” said Hend after the victory.

“I knew Anirban wasn’t going to go away. He’s a great player and I just went out there with the aim to shoot a good score as I knew they had to catch me. I can’t really remember much about 2013 (his win). I remember more about last year where I didn’t play solid down the stretch and Anirban got me. So this year, it is a different feeling.”

Chiragh Kumar of India Chiragh Kumar of India

Lahiri, who arrived for his defence from the Presidents Cup where he made his debut, threw all he had at Hend, including three birdies in the first six holes. Kumar, fighting to save his Tour card, made birdie and eagle in his first two holes as well but Hend was not to be shaken from the top of the tree.

“I can’t be disappointed,” said Lahiri. “I played well barring a couple of really silly mistakes. All credit to Hendy. He played phenomenal golf. I was telling him that anytime you shoot a bogey free five under when you’re leading by three, you’re not going to get caught very often. He’s earned this win.”

Kumar made a last hole birdie to tie for second place, with the runner-up cheque of US$86,500 all but securing his Tour card for 2016. “Honestly, on this course and with Scott’s length, it would have been tough to catch him. I did get off to a good start (with a birdie and eagle) and had I made one or two more putts early on, I would have put some pressure. He played really good,” said Kumar.