Friendship aside: Anirban Lahiri and Scott Hend to continue rivalry at Macau Open
Buddies will fight for the Open title and extend their close but amicable rivalry for another year
India's Anirban Lahiri and Australian Scott Hend have a rivalry that has lit up the US$1 million Venetian Macau Open over the past two years.
And it turns out they have developed a close friendship over the same time, too.
Hend won by three strokes over the Macau Golf and Country Club course in 2013, with Lahiri finishing outright second, while those placings were reversed last year, with the Indian winning by a stroke from the Aussie, who tied for second with Thailand's Prom Meesawat.
"We have actually become very good friends, Scott and I," the 28-year-old Lahiri revealed as he prepared for yesterday's pre-tournament pro-am at this Asian Tour event.
"It's nice because both of us have transitioned on to the European Tour this year. He did it with a win, I did it via the qualifying school.
"We see a lot of each other on tour and we are good friends. He's a colourful character and a great player.
"This golf course sets it up for both of us so I am looking to have some fun out there with him again this year."
The long-hitting Hend bogeyed the final hole there last year as he watched Lahiri come from as far as four strokes behind him across the final round to take the trophy.
The 42-year-old had come to Macau on a high and fresh from winning the Hong Kong Open, the event that ensured him a playing card on the European Tour this season.
"Last year was an amazing feeling winning in Hong Kong and coming into the last day here and playing with Anirban," said Hend.
"Anirban pipped me at the post and he's gone on the up and up from there on.
"The course is always fantastic. It's been very good to me.
"This tournament is very good for launching players on to the world stage, so it's great to be back."
Turning his attention to today's opening round of the Venetian Macau Open, Lahiri said he was putting his faith in the tools that had served him well across a season that had included wins in Malaysia and India, and a tied-for-fifth placing at the PGA Championship, the highest-ever finish in a major by an Indian player.
"I'm pretty good off the tee," said Lahiri. "I find a lot of the fairways and that's been my strength over the past few years.
"The only way you can attack this golf course is if you are coming in from the short grass and that's going to be key this week as well.
"The rough here can mean real trouble."