Hend on the cusp of Race to Dubai top five after Maybank magic

Scott Hend moved to the cusp of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai top five after holding his nerve to defeat Nacho Elvira in a play-off at the weather affected Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The Australian, who last tasted victory at 2016 True Thailand Classic Presented by Chang, started the final round three shots behind overnight leader Elvira but soon took the outright lead courtesy of five birdies on the front nine. The 45 year old remained one stroke ahead as he arrived on the 18th but there was late drama as dangerous weather suspended play for 100 minutes shortly after Elvira’s backswing on his approach to 18 had been disrupted due to a clap of thunder which left the Spaniard a 30 foot putt to keep his hopes alive.

Elvira expertly sunk the birdie putt when play resumed to force a play-off before Hend secured a third European Tour title of his career courtesy of a birdie of his own on the first trip back up the 18th despite hitting trees with two of his shots while Elvira could only make par.

“What a putt by Nacho on the 18th,” said Hend, who picked up 585 Race to Dubai points to jump from 39th to sixth on 873.4 points. “If I was to go out there and hit that putt you would say you would hole it one in ten 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’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.”

Despite missing out on a maiden European Tour trophy, Elvira makes significant strides in the Race to Dubai after picking up 389 points to jump from 94th to 17th with a season tally of 510.6 points.

Jazz Janewattananond finished two off the pace to complete the top three on 13 under par and collected 218 points for his efforts. The Thai star, who won the Asian Tour’s Singapore Open earlier this year, leapfrogs from 167th to 45th on the Rankings.

American Johannes Veerman also makes a giant stride on the Rankings moving from 207th to 63rd after recording his highest position at a European Tour event with a fourth place finish at Saujana Golf Course.

Englishman Oliver Fisher and German Maximilian Kieffer shared fifth spot with each player picking up 135.3 points. Kieffer’s third top 20 finish of the season sees him move from 32nd to 23rd while Fisher, who recorded the European Tour’s first and only 59 at last year’s Portugal Masters, jumps up to 81st from 214th.

The top 50 players in the Race to Dubai Rankings will contest the season-ending US$8million DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai from November 21-24 where US$3 million will be up for grabs for the winner, making it the richest prize in world golf.

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