Date: September 05, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

Hend falls to Noren’s heroics

Scott Hend pushed Alex Noren, but he couldn’t quite break him.

Noren, of Sweden, won his second European Masters title overnight with a 12m birdie bomb on the first playoff hole to finally see off Hend after a gripping shootout in the Swiss Alps.

The Queenslander was left to rue errant tee shots on the 18th hole – one in regulation from which he escaped with a miraculous par and the other in extra holes when he didn’t have a realistic attempt to match Noren, whose sixth career European Tour moved him into the world’s top 30.

“I think Alex played the 18th hole way better than I did and made an awesome birdie for a deserving win,” Hend said in his generous and typical matter-of-fact style.

The Queenslander, who along with Marcus Fraser became Australia’s first Olympic golfers last month, had been two ahead of Noren late in the third round before closing with a bogey to start the final round one shot ahead.

The Swede charged clear with a string of birdies late in the front nine, but Hend slowly ground back into the title race with birdies on the 14th and 15th, then drew level when Noren three-putted the 17th green.

“It wasn’t a daunting tee shot on the last, it is just like any other tee shot,” Hend said after his closing four-under-par 66.

“You just need to stand there and hit it. I was unable to hit the shot I wanted yesterday and today, twice.

“But he (Alex) played fantastic golf today (and) I didn’t play quite well enough. That’s golf.

“You can’t complain when you get into position to win, but somebody makes a great birdie on the playoff hole to win.”

The pair finished at -17, three shots clear of English cult figure Andrew “Beef” Johnston.

The runner-up finish was enough for Hend to push Fraser into second place on the Order of Merit on the Asian Tour, a co-sanctioning partner of the event at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club. The pair is comfortably ahead of Korean Wang Jeunghun in third.

Of the other Aussies to make the cut in Switzerland, Richard Green closed with a 71 to finish T24 at seven under, while Fraser’s 73 reduced him to T36 at four under.

Nathan Holman couldn’t match his Friday 63, shooting a closing 75 to finish T68 at two over, while Brett Rumford closed with a 69 to finish 11 over and 77th after his disastrous third round a day earlier.