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Agonising loss for Hend in Switzerland

(Photo: Getty Images)
Scott Hend has suffered an agonising play-off loss at the European Masters with a missed birdie putt from less than six feet in extra time.

The 44-year-old played masterful golf all week at the Crans-sur-Sierre layout in Switzerland to be tied at 14-under with England’s Matt Fitzpatrick after 72 holes, the pair eventually needing three extra holes to decide the outcome.

After both made par at the first hole of sudden death it was Hend who held the advantage playing the course’s 18th for the second time, a brilliant tee shot followed by a lob wedge to close range and what looked an almost certain birdie.

With Fitzpatrick missing his birdie chance from more than 20 feet, Hend looked all but assured of the win but pulled his attempt left of the hole.

It was a clumsy effort and ultimately cost him the title as a poor drive on the pair’s third excursion up the 18th led to a bogey while Fitzpatrick made par to hoist the trophy.

"I had the opportunity and I didn’t take it,” Hend said after his round.

“It’s just what happens when you don’t take your opportunities. I hit a good bunker shot on the 18th in regulation play to get into the play-off.

“I would love to putt the same way I did in the play-off but it didn’t happen.”

It was the second play-off loss in succession at the tournament for Hend after Alex Noren made birdie at the first extra hole last year to deny the Queenslander a third European Tour title.

That loss, however, was easier to digest than this one as Hend will feel he was in control of his own destiny this year but failed to capitalise.

It was a dramatic final day in Crans Montana with Hend and Fitzptrick among 12 players who had to return to the course early Sunday morning to complete their third rounds.

Hend was through 13 holes when darkness halted play Saturday and opened with an eagle at the par-5 14th when he restarted Sunday morning.

He eventually posted a 1-over 71, enough to see him begin the final round three ahead of Fabrizio Zanotti and four ahead of a group of six players including Fitzpatrick.

It was a nervy start to the final round for Hend with two bogeys in his first four holes but he recovered to head to the turn 1-under and still two in front of Fitzpatrick and playing partner Zanotti.

A run of five straight pars followed for Hend who lost the lead to Fitzpatrick when the Englishman posted birdies at the back to back par-5s at 14 and 15.

An unlikely birdie at 16 extended the lead to two for the 23-year-old former US Amateur champion though a clumsy bogey at the next opened the door again for Hend.

A birdie at 15 for the Australian tied things up and three straight pars to finish forced extra time.

Like Hend, Fitzpatrick had been a contender in Switzerland previously and was excited to have claimed his fourth European Tour title.

"I'm delighted," he said. "It's one that I've always wanted to win.

“I love playing this golf course, from the first ever year I came as an invite in 2014 it's one that has really stood out on my schedule and I always want to come back and play.”

He said he felt his 17th hole bogey had likely cost him the tournament as Hend stood over his birdie putt at the second extra hole but was grateful to have got a second chance.

"I was saying to (caddie) Jamie, 'I think 17 might have cost us today' but it's just one of those things,” he said of Hend’s miss.

“It's never nice to see but we kept our nerve and just played really smart all week.”

New Zealand’s Ryan Fox was next best of the Australasians at T9 in his first appearance at Crans-sur-Sierre, Marcus Fraser slipping down the leaderboard on the final day to T20 despite teeing off in the final group.

Todd Sinnott undid a lot of the good work of opening 65-66 with a 72-74 weekend to slip to T44, three shots ahead of Sam Brazel and Brett Rumford at even par and T54.

Jason Scrivener (T74) and Nathan Holman (77th) were the last of the Australians to make the cut.


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