Australian Scott Hend held off a fast-finishing Piya Swangarunporn of Thailand to win the True Thailand Classic by one shot at Black Mountain Golf Club last month.
The 42-year-old Hend birdied the 14th and 17th holes for a closing four-under-par 68 and an 18-under-par 270, enough for a narrow victory over Piya who’d earlier fired 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’s Order of Merit.
Belgium’s Thomas Pieters settled for third place following a 68, three strokes back, 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 event, 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 the previous 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 a jubilant 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 Thai drained a 20-foot birdie on 18 to set the clubhouse target, Hend found himself trailing by one.
However Hend soon drew level with a fourth birdie of the day on 14 and 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.
“I stuck to my game plan and it came together. 17 obviously was a crucial shot, being tied for the lead and on that tee there, you hit a good tee shot you have a chance to get one in front. And on 18, it’s about not messing up the hole.”