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Australian Hend wins in Macau for year's third title

(Reuters) - Australian Scott Hend comfortably kept the chasing pack at bay to win the Venetian Macau Open by three strokes on Sunday for his third title of the year.

India's Anirban Lahiri hit a scorching nine-under-par 62 to match the course record to finish second while four-times major winner Ernie Els shared third spot with Elmer Salvador of the Philippines in the $800,000 Asian Tour event.

A victory looked unlikely for Hend after his opening round 74 but the big-hitting Australian swung back to contention with a 64 in Friday's second round.

"It's important to win again this week, for the third time, it feels good," Hend, who mixed five birdies with a lone bogey, said. "Thursday was a difficult day, mentally and physically.

"Then on Friday and Saturday, I started holing putts which I haven't done the whole year even when I won a couple of weeks ago. I've holed my fair share this week.

"Three wins in a year is definitely the best golf of my career. There are some big tournaments coming up and it'll be nice to perform well in those and be competitive. The year hasn't finished yet."

Els was hot on the heels of Hend, who was leading by four strokes coming into the final round, with some early birdies on Sunday. The South African gained three shots within the first six holes but a bogey on the ninth halted his momentum.

"It was very frustrating. I started off nicely again and then made a soft bogey on nine. I couldn't afford any mistakes," the 44-year-old said.

"I needed to keep the pedal on the metal but I made that mistake and I didn't play the back nine all that well either. Tough weekend but I think Scott was very strong.

"I had four shots to make up and four shots is a lot to make up especially with the caliber of Scott. He deserved to win."

The 26-year-old Lahiri started with a birdie and an eagle on the first two holes to shoot up the leaderboard. He added seven more shots with a lone bogey coming on the eighth hole.

(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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