Hua Hin Atonement for Hend

Scott Hend with the winner’s trophy.
Scott Hend with the winner’s trophy.

Hua Hin, Thailand: Australian Scott Hend held off a fast-finishing Piya Swangarunporn of Thailand to win the True Thailand Classic by one shot.

The 42-year-old Hend birdied the 14th and 17th holes for a closing four-under-par 68 and an 18-under 270 winning aggregate at Black Mountain Golf Club after Piya raised the roof with a new course record of 63.

It was Hend’s eighth Asian Tour victory and second European Tour title in the US$1.75 million co-sanctioned tournament and he took home US$291,660, which propelled him into fourth place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit.

Belgium’s Thomas Pieters settled for third place following a 68, three strokes behind the new champion while American Peter Uihlein was a further stroke back in fourth after  a 70.

Victory was sweet atonement for Hend, who finished tied second in last year’s True Thailand Classic where he also led into the final day. The overnight leader by two was also fired up to make amends after a poor outing at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in the United States last week.

“To win this tournament after last year’s disappointing finish and to get back into the winner’s circle in Europe and to stay in the winner’s circle in Asia, is extremely important to me. I’m very proud to win this title,” said Hend.

“Last week was extremely disappointing and somewhat deflating. I knew I was swinging the club pretty good. Maybe I was more patient this week and it all came together.”

Piya, 32, threatened to spoil Hend’s party by charging into contention with an amazing run of seven birdies and one eagle where he chipped in for a two on the 10th hole. After the unheralded Thai drained a 20-foot birdie on 18 to set the clubhouse target, Hend found himself trailing by one.

However, Hend drew level with a fourth birdie of the day on 14. After driving the green on 17 for an easy birdie to regain a one-shot lead, the Aussie ensured his victory march up 18 was a formality after striking two sweetly struck three wood shots onto the green.

“I saw his (Piya) name shooting up and wondered where he came from. He was obviously having a great round. Once he posted 17-under, I thought we will have to try to make some birdies but we were not going to force the issue as if you try to force the issue on this course, you’ll be going to make bogeys which was what I did last year,” said Hend.

Piya, who had finished top-three at the Black Mountain Masters in 2010, was delighted with his title run after starting the final day six off the lead. “Today was one of the best rounds I have ever played. Everything about the game was good and it all came together for me,” he said.

“It was very exciting but I tried to stay calm and to keep making birdies. It is a big day for my career and I hope to play more big tournaments like this one,” added Piya, who took home his career’s biggest cheque of US$194,990.

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