Australian Scott Hend has powered his way to the top of the Asian Tour Order of Merit following a runner-up finish at the Omega European Masters over the weekend.
The big-hitting Aussie was denied a third Asian Tour win of the season by Sweden’s Alex Noren but his fine performance at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club meant he replaced countryman Marcus Fraser in pole position in the race for the Merit crown with earnings of US$714,112.
Hend’s noteworthy finish in Switzerland was worth US$337,230, enough to consign Fraser to second place as he came in tied-36th at the Swiss showpiece, which is the only tournament in Europe sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
This was the first time since his victory at the Maybank Championship Malaysia in February that Fraser, who has earned US$658,203 this season, had relinquished his Merit lead.
Korea’s Jeunghun Wang, who did not play in Switzerland, remained in third place on the rankings with US$484,386 while Filipino Miguel Tabuena stayed in fourth position on US$354,176 after missing the halfway cut.
Hend, who is a nine-time Asian Tour champion and the most successful international golfer in the region, tipped his hat to his rival who holed a long birdie putt in extra time for the victory.
“I think Alex played the 18th hole way better than I did and made an awesome birdie for a deserving win. He played fantastic golf but I didn’t play quite well enough. That’s golf. You can’t complain when you get into position to win but somebody makes a great birdie on the play-off hole to win,” said Hend.
Since joining the Asian Tour in 2007 after a hand injury curtailed his career in America, Hend has proven to be very successful in the region. He holds the most titles for an international golfer and has finished second on the Order of Merit twice in the last three seasons and fourth on three other occasions.
Hend, who represented Australia in the recent Olympic Games in Rio, won the True Thailand Classic presented by PTT and Queen’s Cup, also in Thailand, in the first half of the year and his season’s earnings to date is already a career-best for him in Asia.
India’s Rashid Khan, meanwhile, moved inside the top-30 of the Order of Merit for the first time this season after finishing tied for 41st. Khan’s performance allowed him to learn more about himself and the various aspects needed to improve his game.
“There are a lot of positive things to take out of this week. I made the cut after a long time and I know what I need to improve on,” he said. “I need to take a little bit more time before I hit a shot. I do it too quickly now and I’m missing on the wrong side,” added the two-time Asian Tour winner.
The Asian Tour will take a two-week break before heading to the Land of the Rising Sun for the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup fromSeptember 22 to 25.
ASIAN TOUR ORDER OF MERIT – TOP-20
Pos Player Order of Merit (US$)
- Scott HEND (AUS) $714,112
- Marcus FRASER (AUS) $658,203
- Jeunghun WANG (KOR) $484,386
- Miguel TABUENA (PHI) $354,176
- Soomin LEE (KOR) $340,840
- S.S.P. CHAWRASIA (IND) $316,017
- Yuta IKEDA (JPN) $282,956
- Younghan SONG (KOR) $224,772
- Piya SWANGARUNPORN (THA) $202,080
- Shaun NORRIS (RSA) $167,868
- K.T. KIM (KOR) $161,349
- Siddikur RAHMAN (BAN) $154,745
- Anirban LAHIRI (IND) $153,920
- CHAN Shih-chang (TPE) $149,453
- Rahil GANGJEE (IND) $144,618
- Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA) $140,545
- Carlos PIGEM (ESP) $136,891
- Angelo QUE (PHI) $123,930.20
- Masahiro KAWAMURA (JPN) $119,753
- Adilson DA SILVA (BRA) $118,102