Date: September 08, 2017
Author: Bernie McGuire

Hend back on top in Alps

It might be the mountain air.

Regardless, a year after losing out in a playoff, Scott Hend immediately put himself back into a share of the lead today at the European Masters in Switzerland.

The Queenslander used his length off the tee to grab seven birdies, including three in succession early in his round and then two of his closing three holes in a sizzling six-under-par 64 at picturesque Crans-sue-Sierre.

And in more promising news for Australia, Todd Sinnott is within one shot of the lead at five under on a crowded European Tour leaderboard.

Brett Rumford is three under and sharing 15th, Marcus Fraser and Sam Brazel are T27 at two under and Jason Scrivener is level par.

Wade Ormsby is one over, while fellow South Australian Jason Norris, playing with European Tour playing rights for the first time since his Fiji International triumph, carded a four-over 74, two better than Queensland's Andrew Dodt.

But it was Hend who again caught the imagination, going one better than his opening round last year to share top billing with Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez and England’s Tyrrell Hatton.

Jimenez, at 53 years and eight months, is looking for a third time to extend the tour's "oldest winner" record he first set in late 2013 at the Hong Kong Open and eclipsed soon afterwards with his 21st European Tour victory at the Spanish Open.

Hend won the 2014 Hong Kong Open as his maiden European Tour victory and then captured a second last year at the True Thailand Classic.

But last September, Hend came up against red-hot Swede Alex Noren, who got the better of him on extra holes in the midst of a four-title binge.

"It was good to get some birdies on the back nine, which was my front nine today," Hend said.

"I knew I had to play the hard hole, the par-three 16th, and made a bogey there so it was nice to get some birdies before dropping that shot.

"And it was nice to get off to a good start after coming so close last year.

"The course is playing a bit different this year, so it's nice to come in with a good round.

"Hopefully another good round tomorrow will put me in position for the weekend."

Having gone so close a year ago, Hend said "local knowledge" would play a big part if he's to become the first Australian since Rumford in 2007 to be fitted with the winner's red jacket.

"This course is always about where you hit your bad shots … but that's all right," he said.

"I think a lot of experience on this golf course does help."

Victorian Sinnott also shone, particularly in a four-hole stretch from the 14th when he poured in successive birdies as part of his bogey-free 65.