Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Scott Hend claimed his 10th Asian Tour title and third European Tour crown in dramatic circumstances as he beat Nacho Elvira at the first play-off hole to win the weather-affected Maybank Championship.
The 45-year-old began the fourth round three shots behind overnight leader Elvira but went in front courtesy of five birdies on the front nine and remained ahead by one stroke as the final group arrived at the 18th tee.
But there was late drama as the heavens opened, with a clap of thunder on Elvira’s backswing disrupting his approach into the 18th green just before play was suspended at 14:50 local time.
That left the Spaniard with a 30-foot putt to keep his hopes alive and when play resumed at 16:30, he coolly drained his birdie effort to join Hend on 15-under-par and force a play-off.
Hend got a lucky break when his tee shot at the first extra hole hit the base of a tree and landed on the fairway, while Elvira’s ball went straight into a fairway bunker.
The Australian hit another tree with his second shot but holed his birdie putt from three feet to clinch the title. With this victory, Hend moved into second place on the Asian Tour’s all-time career-earnings list, and becomes the second player to break the US$5 million mark on the Asian Tour.
He is only the fourth player after Thais Thaworn Wiratchant, Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaeng to clinch 10 wins or more on the Asian Tour
The victory is Hend’s first since the 2016 True Thailand Classic presented by Chang and also takes him into the top-10 of the 2019 Race to Dubai Rankings.
Elvira’s runner-up finish was his second in as many starts after he ended the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in a tie for second in his last outing.
Thai Jazz Janewattananond was another two shots back in third after mixing five birdies with two bogeys in his closing 69.
Meanwhile, four-time Major champion Ernie Els secured his 300th career top-10 finish after closing with a 71 to join the large group in a tie for seventh.
Hend heaped praise on Elvira after edging their final round battle. “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 10 times. It was an amazing putt, and in the situation he holed it. All credit to Nacho, it was fantastic.
“I had to get off to a fast start as I was three shots behind. 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.”
Elvira was pleased with his performance despite just missing out on a first European Tour title.
He said: “It was thunder in a bad moment but the Gods did give me one back with that putt. I think I played great all week, solid, consistent, I’m very happy with that. I’m happy that my game has finally showed a little bit of consistency.
“I tried to give it all on the play-off hole. I just missed my driver a little bit and gave myself a little chance to make birdie, but I’m happy. Lifting trophies is the point, that’s what we try to do every week. Hopefully it works out soon.”