VIRGINIA WATER, England, May 26 (Reuters) - Scott Hend’s golf game has a tendency to go up and down like a violinist’s elbow but the Australian played sweet music as he fired a 65 in the opening round of the BMW PGA Championship on Thursday.
Hend’s seven-under-par score lifted him to the top of the leaderboard alongside 2009 U.S. PGA Championship winner Yang Yong-eun of South Korea and Dutchman Joost Luiten.
U.S. Masters champion Danny Willett was lurking ominously one shot off the pace after a balmy summer’s day at Wentworth while fellow Englishman Luke Donald, winner of the European Tour’s flagship event in 2011 and 2012, started with a 68.
Hend won the European Tour’s Thailand Classic in March, one week after performing like a weekend hacker in the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral in Florida.
”Every week for me is a different week,“ he told reporters. ”Form for me is not really a true indication.
“How do you move from shooting 22-over at Doral to winning the following week? Same sort of answer, it’s a different week, different day, different attitude.”
Hend said a safety-first approach was the key to his display at the European Tour’s flagship event.
“I tried aggressive last year and it really doesn’t work,” he added in reference to his missed cut at Wentworth 12 months ago.
”I thought I’d just be a little bit cautious. We’ll see how that plays out during the week.
“I holed some nice putts, positioned the ball off the tee and kept it out of the fairway traps. The traps here are pretty brutal, pretty punishing,” said Hend.
Yang and Luiten both bounced back in style after opening bogeys, the Korean claiming four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the front nine while the Dutchman waved the shortest club in his bag like a wizard’s wand, registering 11 single putts.
Luiten echoed Hend’s sentiments about avoiding the sand.
“The traps here are very deep and they will cost you a shot,” he said. “So I just hit a lot of greens and made some nice putts.”
Willett was pleased to shoot a 66 on his first appearance on home soil since his surprise Masters victory in April.
”I had a great reception all the way round,“ the Englishman said of the 19,326 Wentworth crowd. ”It’s nice, they don’t have to be here and they don’t have to come out supporting, but they do.
“You’ve got to appreciate that and enjoy it and hopefully, touch wood, give them some good golf to watch.”
Willett had a frustrating time at last week’s Irish Open, finishing in a share of 23rd place in his first event in Europe since winning the opening major of the season.
“Ireland was fantastic but there was a little bit more support out there today being a home boy in England,” he said. (Editing by Ed Osmond)