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Lahiri fails to sufficiently dent Hend's lead in Order of Merit race

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Scott Hend of Australian tightened his grip on the Asian Tour Order of Merit race when he finished tied seventh at the US$7 million CIMB Classic on Sunday. The big-hitting Australian shot a closing five-under-par 67 for a 15-under-par 273 total which was worth US$225,750 and increased his season’s haul to US$996,592. He finished eight shots back of the champion Justin Thomas.

Anirban Lahiri would have overtaken Hend on the Merit list if he had won the CIMB Classic or finished sole second at TPC Kuala Lumpur but a tied third place finish for the Indian star at the event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGA Tour moved him to third on the Order of Merit.

Australia’s Marcus Fraser, who endured a disappointing tied 60th place finish, stayed in second position on the Order of Merit with earnings of US$694,173, a little over US$300,000 behind Hend with four events remaining this season.

Hend, a nine-time Asian Tour winner, bounced back from the effects of food poisoning at the start of the week by posting weekend rounds of 63 and 67. He was four-over par on his front nine on Thursday.

“My ribs are no good from throwing up. I had no strength at all, so it took me a fair while to get over it. It is a pretty ordinary case but obviously on the weekend, I was feeling much better and back to full strength again,” said Hend.

“It's just unfortunate that I was really, really sick for the last week. And I spent all day Monday in bed with diarrhoea and just sore ribs from throwing up. To sort of recover this quick, it's pretty good. It's just unfortunate that I was the one who got sick,” he added.

A brilliant 63 in the penultimate round moved the Australian up the leaderboard and he followed it up with another solid card where he traded eight birdies against three bogeys.

“I just had two blips, three-putt bogey at the first and hit a bad drive on 18 but all in all the day was pretty solid in the middle and not quite enough to sort of get up to Anirban unfortunately. The wind was a little tricky but the course is quite gettable, quite scorable, and I've had a pretty good weekend,” said Hend.

Fraser failed to narrow the gap on Hend after ending the event with rounds of 75, 69, 71 and 71. “It was terrible, it was a frustrating week. Played okay for majority of it but putted terribly. Didn’t get myself around the golf course at all. I wasn’t getting anything out from my rounds. When you don’t putt well, you feel like it’s ruined everything. It could have been some 10 shots better,” said Fraser, who conceded Hend was favourite to win the Order of Merit title.

Jeunghun Wang of Korea moved up to fourth place with US$546,193 after finishing tied 29th in his CIMB Classic debut while Chan Shih-chang of Chinese Taipei slipped back to fifth place on US$542,820. Filipino Miguel Tabuena, who signed off with a 74 for joint 45th position, is sixth on the rankings with US$504,159.