Macau: Anirban Lahiri claimed a sensational one-stroke victory at the Venetian Macau Open after front-runner Scott Hend agonisingly bogeyed the last hole on Sunday.
Lahiri started the final round of the US$900,000 event two shots behind overnight leader Hend and trailed by four at one stage at the Macau Golf and Country Club before rallying on the home stretch to pip Australian Hend and Thailand’s Prom Meesawat.
The 27-year-old Indian signed for a final round of five-under-par 66, which included six birdies, and a winning aggregate of 17-under 267. The winner’s cheque of US$162,000 raised his season’s tally to US$504,689 as he consolidated his second place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit and narrowed the gap on leader David Lipsky of the United States.
Hend, the defending champion who arrived in Macau in top form after winning the Hong Kong Open last week, lipped out a par putt from four feet on the 72nd hole as the roles reversed from last year’s edition where Lahiri was the runner-up. Hend settled for a 69 while Prom charged up the leaderboard with a 66.
“It’s really special. Hendy was playing great golf and it was sad to see him missing that putt on the last,” said Lahiri, who secured his second win of the season and fifth Asian Tour victory.
Hend took charge early on and doubled his overnight lead to four shots after nailing an eagle on two and a birdie on seven. However, a tenacious Lahiri fought back with birdies on eight and nine to make the turn only two back. The pivotal moment came on 14 when Lahiri hit a superb seven-iron into the par-three hole for an easy birdie while Hend bogeyed.
Lahiri, who opened his campaign with a stunning 61 on Thursday, then led for the first time in the final round with a birdie on 15 but Hend levelled with a birdie at the next hole until his slip-up at the last.
“I hit a perfect golf shot on 14,” said Lahiri. “I had just missed a putt at the previous hole and I knew I needed a birdie to catch Hendy and that was just magic the way it came down.
“I was chasing all day and on 14, that’s where the momentum switched a bit. It’s fantastic to win my second of the year. I missed the cut last week (in Hong Kong) so I had time to think about what I was doing wrong and how was I was not thinking positively on the course. I’m happy I managed to turn that around.”
Hend was disappointed he missed his par putt which would have forced a play-off and also the opportunity to join China’s Zhang Lian-wei as the only two-time Venetian Macau Open champion.
“I hit too many loose shots and then on the last hole I had a lip out which I thought I put a good putt on it,” said Hend. “To be honest, the tournament had slipped as the tee shot wasn’t in play. I had to hit the fairway which would have made it a lot easier but I missed the fairway which made my job harder.”
Prom came home strongly in 32 but fell one shot shy of forcing a play-off. “I had a good back nine but it was up and down in the first four holes. But to finish on five-under for the round, I’m happy. My goal was to stay inside the top-three,” said Prom.
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