Scott Hend birdied the first playoff hole to beat Spain’s Nacho Elvira and secure a remarkable European Tour victory in the Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur today.
Hend’s third European Tour win – but his first in three years – could scarcely have been more dramatic, with he and Elvira forced from the course on the 72nd hole by a storm followed by a one hour, 40 minute delay.
The Queenslander might have won it in regulation, going up the last hole a shot ahead, but after the long storm delay and with both players on the green, Elvira immediately holed a monster, 10-metre birdie putt that left the Australian needing to get down in par to force a playoff down the 18th again.
“What a putt by Nacho," said Hend. "If I was to go out there and hit that putt you would say you would hole it one in ten times. It was an amazing putt, and in the situation he holed it. All credit to Nacho, it was fantastic."
But in the playoff, Hend was up in the greenside bunker at the par-five and got up and down for his birdie. Elvira could only manage par and it was over. Both players had endured breaks and ill-fortune in the closing stages, with the Spaniard having his chip to the 72nd hole ruined by a clap of thunder that was ill-timed. On the playoff hole, Hend’s tee shot bounced off a tree and back into the fairway.
The 45-year-old Hend is a relentless competitor and he is particularly adept at playing in Asia. All three of his wins – today’s tournament in Malaysia, the Thailand Classic in 2016 and the Hong Kong Open in 2014 – have been in that part of the world.
"I had to get off to a fast start as I was three shots behind,'' he said. "That's all there was to it. I was fortunate enough to turn in five under and on the back nine I shot level par. I can't ask for much more on a Sunday when the golf course is playing quite tricky.
"I felt like I played fantastic on the back nine. I nearly holed a lot of putts, just missing. I just had to keep my head on and stay patient, stay in there. The worst case scenario was a play-off.
"I'm a grinder and a fighter. So is my caddie Tony. We both have the same mental attitude. It doesn't matter how old we are, we work hard at what we do. It just takes a bit of luck to win.
"Obviously I had a bit of luck on the play-off hole. If you don't have any luck you won't win. I had the luck today, unfortunately for Nacho. His time will come, he's going to win. He's a great player."
Hend began the day three shots adrift of 54-hole leader Elvira, but quickly leapt to the lead with five birdies on the front nine. Ultimately he carded a four-under par 67 that was good enough for the win. He now jumps to the top of the tour standings and guarantees his playing rights for another two years, and picks up $US500,000 in prizemoney.
Another Australian, Lucas Herbert, finished tied-25th.