Hend wins first European Tour title

Australian Scott Hend won his maiden European Tour title at the Hong Kong Open on Sunday following a play-off victory over Angelo Que of the Philippines.

Big-hitting Hend coolly holed a five-foot par putt at the 18th green in the first extra hole at the Hong Kong Golf Club after Que bogeyed following a poor chip from the greenside.

It was Hend’s sixth Asian Tour victory and his first on the European Tour, which was worth US$216,660.

He joins an illustrious list of Hong Kong Open champions which includes Major winners Bernhard Langer, Greg Norman, Peter Thomson, Tom Watson, Jose Maria Olazabal, Padraig Harrington and Ian Woosnam.

Hend, the first Australian winner in Hong Kong since Norman’s victory in 1983, said he was “ecstatic” after the victory.

“I felt quite calm. The only thing is that you don’t want to go for the pin on 18 as you can make bogey quite easily.

“I wasn’t sure how to play it and we (with his caddie Tony Carolan) discussed it and we said we’ll play it like how we would in regulation play.

“Unfortunately, Angelo made a bogey … I would rather see one of us make a birdie as he’s a great guy and it would be nice to win a play-off with a birdie.”

Victory was sweet for the Aussie as he produced a wonderful par save from a plugged lie in the greenside bunker on the 18th hole during regulation play to sign for a closing three-under-par 67 and tie Que on 13-under-par 267 aggregate.

The bubbly Filipino had set the clubhouse target after a fine 66 which included a memorable birdie at the closing hole, called The Ultimate.

Starting the day one back of the lead, Hend toured the front nine in level par with two birdies against as many bogeys but birdies on 10, 12 and 14 pushed him into contention before holding off Que in extra time.

The 41-year-old said the par save on the 72nd hole was crucial.

“The one on 18 was especially tough considering the situation. I knew what I had to do. I had missed a chance to take the lead on 17 and I knew I had to get up and down,” he said.

“It’s a tough hole, no matter if you’re playing it in a practice round or tournament. I’m just very happy to get this done. My wife Leanne and kids Aston and McLaren are back in Florida …. this one is for the kids. This one is to be treasured.”

Que was disappointed to miss out on his fourth Asian Tour victory but found consolation with the fact that his runner-up cheque of US$144,440 pushed him into sixth place on the Order of Merit which earns him a place in the CIMB Classic in Malaysia in two weeks’