While Australia’s Olympic men’s golf team is dealing with withdrawals, big-hitting Queenslander Scott Hend remains very hopeful Australia can win gold at Rio de Janeiro.
Hend has moved into selection frame and now could find himself marching out onto the Olympic Games arena alongside Marcus Fraser.
Hend went ahead of Fraser in capturing the recent Asia Tour’s Queens Cup in Thailand.
After missing out on qualifying for the recent U.S. Open, Hend was not about to sit idle and headed to Thailand in the same week of the year’s second Major.
It was Hend’s second taste of success in Thailand and two months after capturing the European/Asian Tour co-sanctioned True Thailand Classic.
Hend’s triumph was his ninth Asian Tour success and a 14th worldwide since a maiden pro career victory at the 1999 South Australian PGA Championship.
And with twin children named Aston and McLaren the now 43-year old Hend shows no signs of, and excuse this pun, taking his foot off the pedal as he strives to proudly represent Australia in the Olympic Games.
Hend is respectful of both Scott and Leishman in citing their own reasons for not wishing to tee-up in Brazil even though it has presented him with the once in a lifetime opportunity to walk out behind the ‘Southern Cross’.
“Everybody has their reasons for doing things and no-one should criticise a person for what they want to do, as it’s their own decision and it’s their life,” he said.
“If you don’t want to compete in the Olympics then don’t you don’t go.
“Like I said, I may not be the best-ranked player from Australia but if I am fortunate enough to qualify for the team I go to Brazil and represent Australia the best way I can.”
In the absence of Scott, Hend is clearly the third best performed Australian on the world stage this year having also won twice in 2016 as has Day and Scott.
As well, Hend led going into the final round of the recent BMW PGA Championship while he was fourth earlier in the year in the Shenzhen Open and sixth in the following week’s Volvo China Open.
“I have been playing very well and I’ve had a lot of wins in the last four to five years but unfortunately those wins have not been in a Major or a WGC such as what Jason and Adam have achieved,” he said.
“I’ve never been to Brazil and while I’ve competed in Mexico and Panama I’m looking forward to pulling on the green and gold as it will be something different.
“It will also be great to liaise with Ian Baker-Finch (Australian Team manager) once we get to Rio, so if I am fortunate to be one of the two players who qualify it will be a great experience and something to one day tell the grand-kids.
“So these next few weeks, the French Open and the Scottish Open, are very important to me as if I can stay ahead of the guys behind me then I should be fine.”
However, while Hend would be delighted to represent his country, and something the Townsville-born golfer has not managed to achieve at either amateur or pro level, he is not alone in remarking he would rather not be heading to Brazil and competing in an individual stroke play.
“To be quite honest when they announced golf was returning to the Olympics being a member of the Australian team was not on my radar, and I also thought professional golf is much about playing individual stroke events so my only disappointment when they did announce the return of golf to the Olympics was the structure and format of a single stroke tournament,” he said.
“It was my view they should have voted for a two-man team playing like an Ambrose, Best-ball and a Foursomes and make it a team event.
“So if there is a gold medal being awarded it should be shared between two players in a team format and only because we play single stroke every week out here on tour.
“That was pretty much my biggest gripe about the format they have decided to adopt for Rio.”
And Hend’s all-time favourite Australian Olympic golden moment?
“It was in the Winter Olympics and when all the boys fell over and Stephen Bradbury came across the line to take the gold medal, as I thought that was just awesome,” he said.
“As for the Summer Olympics, I just loved watching Michael Johnson just carving everyone up in several Olympics, and the way he used to run was something else.”