Hend on top at BMW PGA Championship

Surrey, England: For the first time in 26 years the Australian flag flies high sharing the lead in the European Tour’s flagship BMW PGA Championship.

Queenslander Scott Hend, wearing a pair of eye-catching lime green coloured trousers, seized eight birdies and had just one bogey in a storming seven under par 65 in ideal Spring scoring conditions on day one around the famed ‘Burma Road’ West Course at Wentworth in Surrey.

Scott Hend Scott Hend (Credit: www.golffile.ie)

Hend, 43 was later joined by former PGA Champion, Y E Yang and then late in the day by in-form Dutchman Joost Luiten.

Hend’s score is just one shot less than the 64 he posted on day two on route to victory some 10 weeks ago in capturing the co-sanctioned European and Asian Tour True Thailand Classic.

His win at the stunning Black Mountain resort was Hend’s 12th worldwide since turning pro in 1997.

Hend also posted a 65 ahead of finishing T4th three events later in the Shenzhen International in China.

And it provided a stark comparison for Hend, who had missed the cut on debut at Wentworth a year ago in signing for scores of 72 and 79.

Now seeing the Australian flag beside Hend’s name atop of the Wentworth leader board in leafy Surrey is the first occasion since 1990 when Victorian Mike Harwood captured the then Volvo PGA Championship that the ‘Southern Cross’ has been flying so high at Tour HQ.

“The key to my round today was just course management, being patient on the course, not hitting driver when I really wanted to hit driver,” he said.

“I tried aggressive here last year and it really doesn’t work as I missed the cut.

“So I thought I’d just be a little bit cautious, a little cautious, and a bit more aggressive into the greens. We’ll see how that plays out during the week. There’s a long three more days to go and obviously weather permitting, see what happens.”

“Every week is a different week and form for me is not really a true indication of everything.

“Like I have missed three cuts since winning in Thailand so you can read into it what you will but then I am comfortable where I am running and whether that is being in last place or running first.”

Hend had been quizzed post his Wentworth round how do you explain missing the cut one year and then twelve months on returning to the same course and shooting a 65.

But then Hend responded in his own quintessential laid-back manner citing his score 75, 76, 80 and 79 for a 22-over par tally to finish well down in 63rd place at the WGC – Cadillac Championship and then crossing the Pacific a week later to win in Thailand with an 18-under par tally.

“I don’t know. How do you move from shooting 22-over par at Doral and winning the following week? Same sort of answer,” he said.

“It’s a different week, different day and a different attitude. It’s playing golf.”

Hend is also managing without his regular caddy who is a past Australasian Tour player and still very close friend, Tony Carolan.

The former South Australian PGA champion Carolan was on the bag when he competed in Doral and then shared the enjoyment of triumph a week later in Thailand.

However, the now 47-year and Nambour-born Carolan is recorded as last competing on the European Tour in 2011 and in six of the co-sanctioned Asian events that season, and in recent times has taken up caddying for Hend.

But then Carolan has handed back Hend’s bag, at least for only a few months, and with his wife have undertaken a dream holiday.

“Tony and his wife strapped a boat on top of their four wheel drive and they headed off camping and fishing for a couple of months along the ‘Top End’ including Kakadu (National Park) before the start of the ‘wet season’,” said Hend.

“I hope they will be fine but it’s something he says he always wanted to do so I wish them both well.”

“Tony and I used to room together when he was playing on the Tour but then after he suffered tendonitis in his wrist he couldn’t play any more and then said to me, if you want me to caddy for you I am happy to do so.”

“So that was to be for a few months but he’s now been caddying for me for about three years.”