Where have the trees gone? Scott Hend realigns his sights at typhoon-hit Macau Open course
Australian gunning for third title and trying to get his game in shape for big-money events coming up
Two-time Macau Open champion Scott Hend knows the Macau Golf & Country Club course like the back of his hand but there was no mistaking the changes after Typhoon Hato cut a swathe through the city last month.
The deadly storm claimed at least 10 lives in Macau, leaving almost half of the city paralysed and economic losses of 11.47 billion patacas (US$1.4 2 billion).
The golf course did not escape unscathed with many trees felled, target points golfers rely on.
“Some of my normal aiming points have disappeared,” Hend said on Wednesday. “I’ve had to relearn where the lines are on some of the blind tee shots. And the course is now a lot more open to the wind.
“I enjoy this course. It’s very challenging physically and mentally and very tricky when the wind gets up. You have to be right on song.”
With the Venetian hotel no longer sponsoring the event – prize money has been reduced from US$1.1 million to US$500,000 – the field has taken a hit.
Thai Pavit Tangkamolprasert is the defending champion, but Australian Hend will be favoured to add a third title to his victories in 2013 and 2015.
“My game is hopefully on the improve. I’m trying to get my form back before the HSBC Champions [in Shanghai] next week and the Race To Dubai. I hope to be in contention come Sunday.”
Pavit, 28, enjoyed his career best victory in Macau 12 months ago, defeating Indian star Anirban Lahiri on the first play-off hole.
“The memories from my win last year are still vivid in my mind. Last year, we were mourning the death of our king and this week it feels the same again as we are preparing for his funeral later this month. People are wearing black again in Thailand.
“I hope to ride on the happy memories out there to cap another good result this week and I will play with nothing to lose, just like last year,” Pavit said.