The Aussie donned the American flag on his shoes at Firestone Country Club, explaining that the shoe change was in honor of military appreciation. But he quickly shifted the focus from his footwear to his golf game by firing a 7-under 63 that marked the lowest score this week on the South Course and included just 22 putts.
“Just channeling my inner Jordan Spieth,” Hend joked.
Hend’s round included four birdies on each side and it left him at 8 under heading into the final round with a great chance to notch his first career PGA Tour win.
Hend, 43, is making his Bridgestone debut this week, and his inclusion signals the tournament’s international flair. He gained entry by winning the 2016 Order of Merit on the Asian Tour, and while he makes his home in Florida, this marks his first start in the U.S. since the 2016 PGA Championship at Baltusrol.
Since then, the globetrotting Hend has played in every corner of the world, teeing it up in 22 different countries across six different continents.
“You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to make a living,” Hend said. “I love playing golf. If I could I’d be back on the PGA Tour playing full-time, but I haven’t been dealt that hand as yet so I do what I have to do to play. I love being a golf professional, so I travel the world.”
Hend also shot a third-round 65 en route to a T-54 finish at The Open last month. While a win would bring with it a three-year PGA Tour exemption, a high finish could also unlock some more short-term membership options, either of which Hend would readily accept.
“This is the place where all the professionals want to play full-time, and be out here for as long as you possibly can, because this is where the majority of the best golfers in the world play,” Hend said. “I reside here, my kids go to school here, it would be a lot less travel for me and I love playing golf here.”