Hend leads in Switzerland

Scott Hend
Scott Hend booms a drive during his 63 in Switzerland. Image: Getty

 

Scott Hend will take a one-shot lead into the weekend at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club as he looks to put last season's play-off heartbreak behind him at the Omega European Masters.

The big-hitting Australian was defeated by an Alex Noren birdie on the first extra hole here last season en route to finishing a career-high 27th in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex.

It was his turn to produce a big finish on Friday, with four birdies in his last five holes helping him to a 63 and a 13 under par total, one shot clear of South Africa's Darren Fichardt who also signed for a 63.

Thai Thongchai Jaidee, another Australian Todd Sinnott and Paraguayan Fabrizio Zanotti were then at nine under, a shot clear of Matthew Fitzpatrick, Ryan Fox and Julian Suri.

Hend has his wife on the bag this week but his children are at home in Florida and he admits golf is not the only thing on his mind with Hurricane Irma heading towards the Sunshine State.

"We're a bit worried about the kids in Florida with the sitter at the moment," he said. "We've been up late at night trying to find out contingency plans. I think they're going to get out of there. It's not worth the risk."

Hend began with six pars but a stunning tee-shot to three feet on the drivable signature seventh brought an eagle and ignited his round.

Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club is the second shortest course on Tour this year but Hend was still able to utilise his length off the tee, birdieing the par five ninth, 14th and 15th, the latter pair after finding the green in two.

The 44-year-old missed a birdie opportunity on the next but holed from eight feet on the 17th and another putt from similar range on the last put him in the box seat.

"It would be nice to putt a little bit better but you walk off with 63, it's fantastic," he added. "I wouldn't say I've taken this place apart because this place can get back at you pretty quick. I just tried to play a bit more conservative than usual and I got lucky with a couple of shots."

Fichardt won his fifth European Tour title earlier this season at the Joburg Open but had made just two of nine cuts since before finding his form spectacularly in the mountains.

The 42-year-old birdied the seventh to turn in 34 and then holed a monster putt on the 11th before making the most of another par three on the 13th. A brilliant second set up an eagle on the par five 15th and he rolled in a 12-footer on the next before finishing with another gain as he stayed bogey-free for the week.

Sinnott was the only other player in the field apart from Fichardt without a bogey and he made gains on the fourth, ninth, 13th and 14th
 

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