Maybank Championship: Scott Hend wins playoff with Nacho Elvira

Scott Hend celebrates
Scott Hend celebrates

Australia's Scott Hend won his third European Tour title by beating Spain's Nacho Elvira in a play-off following a remarkable finish to the Maybank Championship.

Leaderboard

-15 Hend, Elvira

-13 Janewattananond

-12 Veerman

-11 Fisher, Kieffer

Day four report

Australia's Scott Hend won his third European Tour title by beating Spain's Nacho Elvira in a play-off following a remarkable finish to the Maybank Championship.

Play was suspended in the final round in Kuala Lumpur with the last group on the 18th green when a thunderstorm hit Saujana Golf and Country Club.

Elvira, who was a shot behind Hend at the time, was disturbed by a clap of thunder as he played his pitch to the closing par five and came up around 30 feet short of the flag.

Moments later play was suspended and when it eventually resumed after a delay of an hour and 40 minutes, Elvira holed his putt for an unlikely birdie to join Hend on 15 under par.

Hend was left with a putt to win from a similar distance but could not convert and the two players went into a sudden-death play-off to decide the winner.

After being allowed a short warm-up on the 10th tee, the leading duo returned to the 18th and Hend enjoyed a slice of luck when his drive hit the base of a tree and rebounded back into the fairway.

Elvira found a bunker off the tee and, after laying up, hit a mediocre approach and was unable to make birdie, but Hend got up and down from a greenside bunker to seal an eventful victory.

Hend, who carded back-to-back rounds of 67 over the weekend, said: "What a putt by Nacho, unbelievable. If I was to go out there and hit that putt, you'd probably hole it one in 10 times. It was an amazing putt and the situation he holed it in was awesome. All credit to him.

"I had a bit of luck on the play-off hole to win, you need luck to win and I was fortunate to have the luck today. Unfortunately for Nacho he was against the luck but his time's going to come, he's a great player and he's going to win."

Hend began the final round three shots behind Elvira, but raced to the turn in 31 and moved two shots clear with another birdie on the 13th, before Elvira halved his deficit with a birdie on the 16th.

Heavy rain began to fall with the last group on the 18th fairway and after Hend

hit his third shot to around 30 feet, the thunder arrived at a most inopportune moment, much to the annoyance of Elvira's fellow Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal, who criticised the European Tour for not suspending play sooner.

Elvira, who is yet to win on the European Tour, said: "It was thunder in a bad moment to be honest, but the Gods give me one back.

"I think I played great all week, I'm very happy with that. I tried to give it all on the 18th hole (in the play-off). I just missed my drive a little bit and gave myself little chance to make birdie but I'm happy overall."

Thailand's Jazz Janewattananond finished two shots outside the play-off in outright third, with four-time major champion Ernie Els three strokes further back in a tie for seventh, the 300th top 10 of his career.

The 49-year-old South African is the first player to reach the milestone since the inception of the world rankings in 1986.

Day three report

Nacho Elvira increased his chances of securing a maiden European Tour title after closing his third round with back-to-back birdies to open up a two-shot lead heading into the final day of the Maybank Championship.

The 32-year-old began the day trailing halfway leader Thomas Pieters by a single shot, but he carded seven birdies and a single bogey at Saujana Golf and Country Club on Saturday to climb to the top of the leaderboard.

American David Lipsky was alone in second place on 11 under par, one shot clear of Maximilian Kieffer, Jazz Janewattananond and Scott Hend.

Four-time major champion Ernie Els sat in a share of sixth place on nine under alongside Benjamin Hebert, who shot a 65 to tie the lowest round of the week so far.

Englishman Oliver Fisher moved to eight under after producing a 68 which contained six birdies and two bogeys, with countrymen Ross Fisher and Andy Sullivan in the group another shot back.

Elvira is no stranger to the winner's circle, having won four Challenge Tour titles, but he insists he is not thinking about lifting the trophy on Sunday.

After signing for a 66 to move to 13 under par, he told the European Tour's official website: "It would be great to start here (winning on the European Tour) but I really don't think about it too much.

"I like the way things are right now with my swing. I like the way I've turned round my season a little bit. Let's see what tomorrow brings."

Day two report

Thomas Pieters took over at the top of the leaderboard on day two of the Maybank Championship, as the overnight leaders found trouble.

Seeking his first solo victory since 2016, Pieters came home in 33 for a three-under-par round of 69, enough to reach eight-under and the lead.

"I struggled off the tee early on - at the end it was a lot better," said Pieters, who won the World Cup for Belgium alongside Thomas Detry last year.

"It didn't feel like a good day to me, I made the best of what I had. I gave myself a lot of chances but I couldn't seem to get the ball in the hole."

Playing alongside Pieters, former champion Marcus Fraser made three double-bogeys as he followed a first-round 65 with a second-round 77, while Nacho Elvira also saw his serene progress halted late in the day.

Elvira had reached 10-under after a birdie at the 10th, but made a mess of the 14th hole before three-putting the 15th to give back three shots in two holes and fall into a share of second with unheralded Indonesian, Danny Masrin.

David Lipsky, who won the Alfred Dunhill Championship before Christmas, made five birdies over the course of his final nine holes to climb the leaderboard rapidly as he looks to better his runner-up finish at Saujana two years ago, but a bogey at the last saw him drop to six-under and two off the lead.

Ernie Els is also part of what's a big group on six-under, completed by Paul Peterson, Max Kieffer, Lucas Herbert, Dean Burmester and Jazz Janewatananond, with Kenya Open champion Guido Migliozzi on their heels in 11th after a second-round 68.

Day one report

On the back of a near-miss in the Qatar Masters, Nacho Elvira again put himself in contention on day one of the Maybank Championship Malaysia.

The Spaniard made just one bogey in an otherwise blemish-free round of 65 to reach seven-under, enough for a share of the lead with Marcus Fraser, a former winner of the event.

"To be honest seven under is always good. With my record here not being too great, 65 is very good," said Elvira.

"My caddie told me today that I hit 12 fairways. I have been hitting my irons well and putting great, I just needed to put the ball in play. 

"I wasn't able to do that the first few weeks (of the season) but I think I managed to do that in Qatar and also today. 

"I'm happy with the way things are going, happy to be turning around my golf game a little bit. We'll see where that gets me."

Fraser's success came at Royal Selangor in 2016 but he showed that Saujana is just as suitable a venue for him with a straightforward 65.

The Australian said: "It's been a good day. I played steady all day and putted really well. 

"I've been playing well having a hit at home but I haven't played a whole lot of competitive golf. It was nice to go out and play well in a great tournament."

For much of Thursday, it was Philippines golfer Angelo Que who appeared set to hold the lead after he made eight birdies in his opening 11 holes, only for a brace of doubles towards the end of the round to stop him in his tracks.

Still, the veteran shares third place with younger duo Jazz Jannewattananond and Matthias Schwab, with Belgium's Thomas Pieters back in sixth.

Pieters, looking for his first solo success since 2016, both started and finished with a bogey but was excellent in the interim, an eagle at the first - his 10th - among the highlights.

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