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Golf | European Tour

Darren Fichardt © Getty Images

SA's Fichardt one behind leader Hend

Scott Hend will take a one-shot lead into the weekend at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club in Switzerland as he looks to put last season's playoff 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, Australian Todd Sinnott and Paraguayan Fabrizio Zanotti were then at nine under, a shot clear of Matthew Fitzpatrick, Ryan Fox and Julian Suri.

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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.

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.

Jaidee has just one top ten so far this season but is looking for a fourth consecutive campaign with a win and a ninth European Tour title in total.

He recorded a first blemish of the week on the tenth but bounced back with a birdie on the 12th, an eagle on the par five 15th and another gain on the 18th.

Another birdie followed on the fourth and he missed good chances on the sixth and seventh as he finished with five pars.

Zanotti finished birdie-birdie on Thursday and carried that momentum forward, making gains on the second, fifth and seventh as he turned in 32.

A brilliant approach to the 12th helped him to eight under and another gain on the 14th put him right in the mix for the weekend.

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.

Kiwi Fox overcame two bogeys and a double with seven birdies in a 67, while American Suri and Englishman Fitzpatrick were both bogey-free in signing for rounds of 65.

Swede Alexander Björk, Scot Stephen Gallacher, Spaniard Carlos Pigem and South African Richard Sterne were seven under.

Source: europeantour.com


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