Sentosa, Singapore, August 14: Australia’s Scott Hend is the epitome of a feel-good golf story, thanks to his inspiring rise from the depths of despair to international acclaim.
As a hard-luck golfer, whose career in the United States was abruptly cut short in 2006 after sustaining a torn muscle injury in his left hand, Hend subsequently found his career lifeline through the Asian Tour when all seemed lost.
A decade since boarding the long flight from his Florida base to Bangkok for Qualifying School in December, 2006, the widely travelled Hend has emerged as the most successful international golf star in Asia with an outstanding nine career victories.
Last year, the Australian added the prestigious Order of Merit crown to his list of accolades when he finished first on the rankings with earnings of over a million US dollars. He also became the first Australian to achieve the feat, and only the fourth golfer to surpass US$1 million in a season.
All these had looked impossible after he sustained his injury.
In the mid-2000s, Hend had played with some measure of success on the PGA TOUR for two years, during which he led the driving distance category ahead of former world number one Tiger Woods in 2005.
However, his muscle tear meant he was unable to retain his tour card in America, which then forced him to turn his eyes to Asia in an attempt to resuscitate his career.
He earned his Asian Tour card from Qualifying School and quickly made an impact with two runner-up finishes at the Pakistan Open and Volvo China Open. His return to form saw him crowned as the Rookie of the Year in 2007.
A maiden victory on the Asian Tour came soon enough for the big hitter in 2008 when he secured a well-deserved win at the Indonesia President Invitational.
Although his next triumph arrived only four years later at the 2012 Singapore Classic, the 43-year-old has since won seven more titles over the last five years, making his haul all the more impressive as no other player has won more tournaments in Asia during the same period of time.
“The Tour has given me a place to continue playing after I lost my status in America, and it’s also given me an opportunity to support my family and pursue my goals and dreams,” said Hend during the filming of the Asian Tour’s phase two of its digital #whereitsAT campaign.
“The opportunities I’ve had on the Asian Tour meant that I was able to get back into one of the world’s major tours, including the European Tour through playing co-sanctioned events in Asia, and also being able to refine my golf skills and get better as the years have progressed,” he added.
Ranked third behind only Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee and Thaworn Wiratchant on the all-time career earnings list on the Asian Tour, Hend continues to have high hopes for the exciting future of the Tour.
“I’m hoping the Tour can grow from strength to strength and give the younger players from Asia and Australia a chance to branch out and be able to make enough money to make a living and yet enjoy themselves by playing golf and doing what they love,” said Hend, who has earned over US$4 million in Asia since 2007.
Approaching his mid-40s, Hend believes he can still compete at the highest level. He revealed the motivation behind his traverse across the world’s airways in search of golfing success on the international fairways.
“I think I’ve been very fortunate in my career to be able to produce performances which have won me tournaments. I think the reason why I’m so hungry to do that is because when I was growing up, we used to see my father’s trophy cabinet all the time and I always said to my father I was going to get more trophies than he had,” said Hend.
“I mean, the money is fantastic. It’s a great side from winning tournaments and it’s a great way to make a living but I really live and I want to achieve a trophy collection. I love trophies. That motivates me and it makes me want to achieve the best.”