India’s Shiv Kapur fulfilled a lifelong ambition of winning at his home course, the Delhi Golf Club (DGC), when he marched to a three-shot victory at the Panasonic Open India 2017 on Sunday. It was his third Asian Tour title and fifth international win.
Kapur shot a final round of four-under-68 at the US$400,000 event that took his tally to 17-under-271 for the week. Shiv, overwhelmed by emotions in the final stages of the tournament, thus registered his first Asian Tour win on home turf in India and his second of the 2017 Asian Tour season.
The recent surge of Indian golf was evident from the fact that among the seven players who finished tied second at 14-under-274, six were Indians. This included the seasoned SSP Chawrasia and Chiragh Kumar, recent Asian Tour winner Ajeetesh Sandhu as well as those coming up the ranks from the PGTI such as Sudhir Sharma, Om Prakash Chouhan and rookie Karandeep Kochhar. There were also nine Indians in the top 10.
Shiv Kapur (65-69-69-68), the overnight joint leader along with American Paul Peterson, was quick off the blocks as he birdied the second on Sunday. The 35-year-old, winner of an Asian Tour event in Taiwan earlier this year, then played solid with pars on the next seven holes.
The three-putt bogey on the 10th didn’t dampen Kapur’s spirits but on the contrary seemed to energize him as he was determined to come back stronger. His aggressive approach from there on resulted in four birdies on the next five holes that helped him set up the victory.
Shiv, who walked away with the winner’s cheque worth US$72,000, said, “It’s an amazing feeling. This victory has not really sunk in yet but when I was walking down the 18th, I was really trying to hold back the emotions. I was telling myself just finish the race, finish the race and it’s just amazing to be able to do it. To be able to win in front of all my friends and family is wonderful. I grew up playing golf here and told myself I got to win at the Delhi Golf Club one day. So no words can actually describe how I’m feeling right now. The reception I got when I was coming up the 18 was just amazing. It was well worth the wait.
“I was very aggressive the first few days but I had a pretty conservative strategy today. I just wanted to eliminate the mistakes on the card and I started off playing really steady. I had a three-putt on 10 which sort of got me going. I was like come on, I can do this. I birdied 11 followed by 12 and then 14 and 15. When I stood at the leaderboard on 14, I said to myself I got to take the tournament by the throat. I’m not going to play conservatively anymore and I took out my driver. I attacked the flag all the way coming in and that aggressive golf paid off.
“It’s amazing to have two wins this year and I’ve to thank a lot of people for believing in me and supporting me. The form is good and the confidence is high, so there’s no reason why I cannot win again,” added Kapur, who became a father to a baby girl in August this year.
Shiv has now zoomed from 18th to 11th position in the Asian Tour Order of Merit. He is also likely to make a massive improvement in his world ranking which is currently 326. When the new world rankings are released on Monday, he might well find himself breaking into the top-200.
With his win, Kapur moved to the top of the Panasonic Swing, which is an aggregate points race that spans five events – in Thailand, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan and where Asian Tour players have an opportunity to shoot for a share of the lucrative bonus pool.
Chiragh Kumar posted an incredible eight-under-64, the day’s best score, to rise from overnight tied 15th to tied second. The 2015 Panasonic Open India champion made nine birdies against a lone bogey in the last round. The DGC-based professional signed off in style with birdies on the last two holes.
Ajeetesh Sandhu produced a 65 in round four to move up 11 places from overnight tied 13th. He was in trouble having bogeyed the 17th but pulled it back with a birdie on the last hole to tie for second. Sandhu has been on a roll since his Asian Tour win in Taiwan in October. The Chandigarh lad followed that up with a win on the Japan Challenge Tour and another tied runner-up finish in Macao (again on the Asian Tour) immediately after.
Rookie Karandeep Kochhar, another Chandigarh-based player, fired a flawless 66 on Sunday to gain six places and finish tied second. Kochhar, who dropped just a bogey and triple bogey each during the tournament, closed the week with a flourish, chipping-in for eagle on the 14th and converting a 30-footer for birdie on the 18th.
Along with Karandeep Kochhar, PGTI regulars Sudhir Sharma of Greater Noida and Om Prakash Chouhan of Mhow, also secured their best ever finishes on the Asian Tour. Sharma, who led for a major part of the final round, and Chouhan carded scores of 69 in round four.
Sudhir’s bogey-free effort featured three birdies between the seventh and the 10th but the birdies dried up for him thereafter as he couldn’t roll in the putts with several near misses on the greens.
Chouhan also had a bogey-free round and joined the bunch in tied second thanks to his five feet birdie conversion on the 18th.
SSP Chawrasia, the 2014 Panasonic Open India champion and a winner of three international titles at the DGC, also returned a 69 in round four to close the week in tied second. He stays in fourth place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit and strengthens his claim for a spot in Team Asia for the 2018 EurAsia Cup.
American Paul Peterson's (71) chase for his first Asian Tour title fell short after he marked his card with three birdies and two bogeys to fall off the pace. Peterson had to settle for a share of second place along with the six Indians.
The presence of Honey Baisoya (68) and Shamim Khan (72) in tied ninth, made it nine Indians in the top 10.