Scott Hend holds off Indian duo to clinch Macao Open triumph
Australia's defending UBS Hong Kong Open champion keeps good friend Anirban Lahiri and Chiragh Kumar at bay in final round of US$1 million tournament
Scott Hend knew he held the fate of the US$1 million Venetian Macao Open in his hands as he carried a three-stroke lead into yesterday's final round.
So the game plan was simple.
"One foot in front of the other, one shot at a time," said Hend.
It worked a treat, too, as the Australian claimed victory - by three strokes - over the Indian pair of Anirban Lahiri and Chiragh Kumar at the Macau Golf and Country Club
Hend, who will be defending his UBS Hong Kong Open title this week, signed for a tournament record 20-under par 264 after a final-round, five-under 66 that saw him also become just the second two-time winner of the event over its 17 editions, following Zhang Lianwei's back-to-back victories in 2001-2002.
"I tried to make the best choices I possibly could and not put any pressure on myself," said the 42-year-old Hend, who won the tournament in 2013.
"To go bogey free and win is very satisfying."
Last year, Hend had also led the field while turning for home.
However, he lost the lead and then had a chance to force a play-off with Lahiri on the last but bogeyed to hand the Indian the title.
With last year's near-miss still rankling, Hend said he was determined not to give Lahiri "a sniff" this time around.
"I was thinking it's just as hard for them to catch me as it is for me to keep ahead," said Hend, who collected his seventh Asian Tour title with the victory.
"So I thought if I make a few birdies, it will be all that more harder for them."
The Indian pair had closed the gap to two strokes by the 16th but there was trouble in the rough for Lahiri - who later admitted he'd chosen the wrong wedge for the round - while Kumar saw a three-footer lip out.
It meant bogeys for both players, effectively tucking away the winner's cheque in the Hend's pocket.
"Apart from some silly mistakes on the back nine, I played well today," said Lahiri.
"But, as I said to Scott, anytime you shoot a bogey-free five under when you're leading by three, you're not going to get caught."
Both he and Kumar finished on 17-under 267 after final rounds of 66 and 65, respectively.
Hend's attention now turns to his defence of the UBS Hong Kong Open, which starts on Thursday. Well, maybe not straight away.
"I've worked so hard," he said. "This is six weeks on the road in a row, so maybe I will let myself have a little time to just enjoy this win first."
Hend will face a star-studded field, including England's Justin Rose and American Dustin Johnson in Hong Kong.