Macau: Two-time champion Scott Hend on Tuesday announced his intention to return to Macao and defend his Venetian Macao Open golf title at the picturesque Macau Golf & Country Club. To be staged from October 13 to 16, 2016, the lucrative event will see its total prize fund reach an all-time high of $1.1 million, a fourth consecutive year-on-year increase. "The Venetian Macao Open is one of my favourite stops on the Asian Tour and a tournament that I always seem to play my best. The field there is always tough and I am stoked to have come away with two victories and one runner-up finish over the last three years," the 42-year-old Australian said in an Asian Tour release. "The course itself won't be any different, but I know the players around me will keep getting better, so I too will need to raise my game to make sure I am ready to defend my title. Hopefully I can emulate Zhang Lian-wei and defend a Venetian Macao Open title." Inaugurated in 1998, The Venetian Macao became title sponsor of the tournament in 2012 and, since then, has seen it develop into one of the most prestigious professional golf tournaments in the region where it will be the highest purse for a full-field Asian Tour event this year. The championship, which will feature 144 players, will continue to be jointly organised by Sports Bureau of Macao SAR Government (MSB) and the Golf Association of Macau. It is sanctioned by both the Asian Tour and the Golf Association of Macau, and promoted by IMG. Last year, Hend held off the challenge of his great Asian Tour rival Anirban Lahiri as well as Chiragh Kumar to claim a three-stroke win, becoming only the second player after Chinese great Zhang Lian-wei to win the tournament twice (2013 & 2015). Fresh from a second Asian Tour win of the year following his triumph at the Queen’s Cup in Thailand over the weekend, the married father-of-two also clinched the True Thailand Classic presented by Chang earlier in the season and bagged three other top-10s.