Honma Hong Kong Open

Asian Order of Merit winner Scott Hend rewards best season of his career with extra gym sessions

Australian slumps to a disappointing finish at Hong Kong Open but is pleased with a fine season

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 December, 2016, 5:30pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 December, 2016, 5:30pm

Scott Hend was crowned Asian Tour Order of Merit winner on Sunday and then said the plan was to celebrate by ... hitting the gym.

“There’s a lot less enjoying yourself off the golf course these days,” claimed the 43-year-old Australian, after signing off his UBS Hong Kong Open with a four-over 74.

“I’ve got to strengthen up these old muscles and get them firing again.”

So it will be four weeks of weight work and then a return to the fray in the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship from January 19, after a season that saw Hend combine victories at the True Thailand Classic and the Queen’s Cup with three other top-10s – including a second in the European Masters – and an appearance at the Rio Olympics.

“It’s been a great year,” he said. “I only missed out on one goal and that was to get top 50 in the world and make the Masters next year. But it was a hard task – I had to come second here or win. To win against this sort of field on this golf course is a hard task anyway but all in all it’s a been a very good year.”

Hend had twice previously finished the Order of Merit in second place (2012 and 2013) and became the first Australian to seal the title in his 10th year on the Asian Tour. His season’s winnings of US$1,004,792 also made him the fourth player to break the US$1 million mark in earnings for a single season.

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Fellow Aussie Marcus Fraser came to the Hong Kong Open as the only one with a chance of overtaking Hend in the Order of Merit standings, but it was a tough ask, with Fraser having to win the event and Hend having to finish worse than 13th.

Hend struggled all week and finished looking a spent force, wayward tee shots and three bogies over the last four holes meaning he signed for a one-over 281 for the event. He left the course reflecting on a season highlighted also by that trip to represent his nation in Rio.

“That was awesome,” Hend said. “It just topped off the year for me. I’ve had a great year in Europe, I’ve had a fantastic year – the best you can get – in Asia and represented Asia in the Olympics. And for Marcus and I to finish first and second on the Order of Merit is great for Australian golf. We’ve done the Australian golfing fraternity proud.”

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Fraser’s own four-under final day, and a six-under finish, was a bright end to a season where he felt he’d run out of stream. The sense of what might have been is by now familiar for Fraser – three times Order of Merit second in Asia and once in Australia.

“I guess it’s just not meant to be,” he said. “But Hendy’s played great and he deserves it. He’s a world class player and is a long way in front which is not surprise considering the class he has.

“I had 15 bogeys for the week and 21 birdies so it was a what of what could have been. But going in to the week the confidence wasn’t there and my game wasn’t there so I couldn’t expect too much. So to finish in the top 20 is a pretty good result considering where my game was at.”