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Australian golfers have set a new record for wins on the European Tour just a few months into the season, after Scott Hend held sway at the True Thailand Classic at Black Mountain Golf Club.
The 43-year-old Hend, who won by a shot in the joint European-Asian Tour event, is the fifth different Australian to win on the European Tour in 2015-16, the most ever.
The run began with Marc Leishman's triumph in South Africa last December, followed by Nathan Holman's win in the co-sanctioned Australian PGA Championship on the Gold Coast. In the past three weeks Adam Scott (WGC), Marcus Fraser (Maybank Championship) and Hend have all secured wins.
For Hend, an Asian specialist with eight wins on that continent, the victory is a huge bonus, giving him two-years worth of playing time on the European Tour. He has previously focussed on Asia, most recently winning the 2015 Macau Open. His world ranking — 122nd before this week — also is soaring.
Hend began the final day with the lead but was overtaken at one point by an astonishing 63 from Thailand's Piya Swangarunporn.
But the big-hitting Queenslander rallied from a shot back, rejoining the lead when he rolled in a long birdie putt from the fringe at the par-four 14th hole. At the short par-four 17th, he bombed his drive on to the green and two-putted from long range for the birdie that gave him the outright lead again, with the par-five 18th to play.
A par was all he needed, and he was secure once he hit a brilliant three wood second shot on to the green, taking three putts from 15-metres to get down for a 68. "There wasn't too much pressure there,'' he said. "You just have to three-putt it for a win, anyway you can.''
At 18-under overall, he beat Swangarunporn by the slimmest of margins, going one better than his second-place finish in the same event last year. Ironically Hend was poor at the WGC event in Florida last week, finishing 63rd in the 66-player field with an 80 and a 79 on the weekend.
"I just stayed patient,'' he said. "Last week I didn't really have much patience in Miami and this week I hung in there, and if I made a mistake, I didn't get upset about it. I just rolled with the punches.''
Hend's win followed the triumph of Melbourne's Matthew Griffin at the ISPS Handa BMW New Zealand Open at The Hills today, a rare double victory for Aussies.