Crans Montana: Reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion Scott Hend showed great resolve of redeeming himself when he signed for a six-under-par 64 to grab a share of the opening round lead at the Omega European Masters on Thursday.
The 44-year-old Hend was defeated by Alex Noren on the first play-off hole with a birdie against a par last year but was quick to erase that setback with a commanding performance at the €2.7 million (approximately US$3.25 million) event held at the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club.
Hend marked his card with seven birdies against a bogey to sit atop the leaderboard alongside Spanish icon Miguel Ángel Jiménez and England’s Tyrrell Harron in what is the only tournament on European soil to be co-sanctioned by the Asian and European Tours.
Todd Sinnott, also of Australia, put up a good showing in his debut appearance at the Swiss showpiece by signing for a bogey-free 65 to trail by one in fourth position with five other players, which include Thai star Thongchai Jaidee.
Carlos Pigem of Spain, Adilson Da Silva of Brazil and American Daniel Im, who provided the highlight of the day by nailing an ace from 204 yards with a seven-iron on the eighth hole, were amongst those bunched in 10th place following matching 66s.
Asian Tour Order of Merit leader and former Omega European Masters winner David Lipsky carded a 67 to trail by three while defending champion Noren battled to a 70 to tie in 58th position.
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Hend needed only 27 putts around the greens for his solid round of 64. He hit a total of eight fairways and missed four greens today.
Hend became the first Australian to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2016. He is a nine-time winner on the Asian Tour and a two-time winner on the European Tour.
Hend took home € 300,000 (approximately US$358,801) from his runner-up finish at the 2016 Omega European Masters and it remains his career’s biggest pay cheque to date.
Thongchai has never missed a single cut in his last six appearances at the Omega European Masters. His best result was a tied-fifth finish in his maiden appearance in 2009.
Thongchai is the highest-ranked Thai player in the world. He sits in 118th position on the current Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR).
Thongchai is regarded as one of Asia’s greatest players, thanks to an unprecedented three Order of Merit crowns and 13 career victories on the Asian Tour.
Australian Todd Sinnott won his first career victory by three shots at the 2017 Leopalace21 Myanmar Open in January. It was his rookie season on the Asian Tour.
Sinnott came through the Asian Tour Qualifying School just two weeks before securing his maiden win in Myanmar. He shot a 10-under-par 62 in the final round of the Qualifying School but was defeated in a play-off by countryman Richard Green.
Scott Hend (Aus) – First Round 64 (-6)
It was good to get some birdies on the back nine which was my front nine today. I had to play the hard hole which was the par-three 16 and made a bogey there. It was nice to get some birdies before dropping that shot.
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 before the wind picks up in the afternoon. Hopefully another good round tomorrow will put me in position for the weekend.
Putting has always been the key to score. It’s always about where you hit your bad shots on this golf course but that’s alright. I think a lot of experience on this golf course does help. It’s a beautiful day today and I heard it will stay beautiful tomorrow too. We will see how it goes.
Todd Sinnott (Aus) – First Round 65 (-5)
I birdied the two par-fives on 14 and 15 and managed to stay in it to birdie 16 before holing a nice putt for the fourth consecutive birdie on 17. That got my game going I guess. The 16th hole is a brutal hole. It has a really small and tough green.
I stayed really patient on my back nine which is the front nine and finally got another birdie at the final hole. There are a few tough holes on the front nine. I fought through the fifth, sixth and seventh holes. I gave myself some opportunities for birdies there but didn’t manage to pick one up. Thankfully I managed to birdie the last.
I love it here. The golf course is really good. It’s the most beautiful place I have ever seen, especially on the seventh tee. The scenery looks fake! It’s hard to concentrate with such beautiful views! My caddy didn’t even have water on the seventh green. He was busy looking at the views out there. It is really a spectacular place.
Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) – First Round 65 (-5)
I hit a lot of good tee shots today. You have to keep the ball in play to score on this course. The fairways are quite tight so you need to keep the ball in play and hit as many greens as you can. I putted really well good. I didn’t miss any putts from three to four feet. That’s the key for me today and I gained a lot of confidence from the way I putted.
It’s a good golf course. The greens are tricky. You have to be able to read the greens well. I worked well with my caddy today. I am happy with the way I played. I enjoyed myself out there. I had a good run of birdies out there, starting from the seventh.
I hit the green with my tee shot on seventh and made two putts for birdie and sank an 18-footer for birdie again on eighth. On the ninth, I hit a good tee shot and a good second shot and putted in from three to four feet. I sank an amazing putt on 10th. I hit my tee shot into the rough on the right and hit my second shot to greenside on the left.
It was a difficult putt but I holed it from 22 feet. I guess it’s because I was confident with my putting. I have been here many years. I think the most important thing is to have the right attitude out there. You need to choose your clubs wisely too. I talked a lot to my caddy and I think that helps. Our game plan was successful.