Chowrasia caps brilliant comeback with Panasonic Open title

Chowrasia-with-Panasonic-Open-India-2014-TrophyNew Delhi: Forty four months after his last win in a joint-sanctioned event in India, S.S.P. Chowrasia carded a brilliant 66 before getting into a play-off where he finally clinched his third Asian Tour title at the Panasonic Open India 2014 edging out fellow Kolkatan Rahil Gangjee (71) and Sri Lanka’s Mithun Perera (70) on the first extra hole on Sunday after the trio tied at 12-under 276.

Chowrasia also picked up a cheque of US $ 54,000. It was his first win in a season, where he has had seven other top-10s, five on Asian Tour, one in Europe and one on Asian Development Tour. He also moves into top-10 into eighth place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit.

Eighteen-year-old Shubhankar Sharma, who even led for a brief while, fell one stroke short of getting into a play off and ended fourth in what is his best Asian Tour finish. Shubhankar (71) finished at 11-under 277 for sole fourth.

Akinori Tani (68), Unho Park (70) and Siddikur Rehman (72) were all tied for fifth at 10-under 278. Rashid Khan (71) was tenth at eight-under 280, while defending champion, Wade Ormsby (75) faded to tied 11th at seven-under 281.

Chowrasia, who lost a play-off in the Hero Indian Open at the same venue back in 2006, rolled in a 15-footer birdie in extra time to cap a sensational comeback as he started the final day five shots off the lead at the start of the day at the US$300,000 event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI).

On a day when fortunes swung fast and furious, no less than six players led at some point but in the end, Chowrasia, Gangjee and Perera went into a play-off at
12-under 276.

With his trademark short game in full flow at the Delhi Golf Club, Chowrasia returned with the day’s low score of six-under-par 66 highlighted by eight birdies to finish on 12-under-par 276.

“I worked very hard for this win because I wanted to boost my confidence. It is three years since I last won and I will take a lot of positives from the win,” said the 36-year-old Chowrasia, who won his first Asian Tour title at the 2008 Indian Masters on the same venue. He then won the 2011 Avantha Masters, also co-sanctioned event.

“I’ve lost in play-offs before but it never crossed my mind. I was focused on making the birdie putt in the play-off. I always had the belief that I could win on the Asian Tour again and I did,” he smiled.

After turning in 35, Chowrasia fired five birdies that included three in a row from the 15th hole, which was the turning point in the thrilling final round, which saw the lead exchange hands on numerous occasions.

“At the start of the day, I was thinking that if I could shoot a four or five-under, I will have a chance to win. I was confident I could catch the leader. I played very well on the back nine and the hat-trick of birdies proved to be the turning point,” Chowrasia explained.

Gangjee battled tooth-and-nail after a poor front nine 37 but was in contention again following an eagle on 14. After dropping a shot on 16, he held his cool to birdie the last for a 71 to join the play-off.

The dejected Indian rued the missed opportunity to win his second Asian Tour title after leading for three days.

“I knew the momentum would swing through the final day and I told myself to play normally and not to worry too much about the leaderboard. I missed out on a couple of chances towards the end and that just took the game away from me. It was a tough contest in the end with lot of contenders but S.S.P. played the best golf to come through,” said Gangjee.

Playing in his first ever play-off on the Asian Tour, Perera missed out on the chance to become the first Sri Lankan champion on the Asian Tour after narrowly missing a 10-footer birdie putt in extra time. He ended the day with a 70 highlighted by two opening birdies.

“Everybody had a chance to win today. I did good but Chowrasia but played better than all of us. I’m happy with my finish. I’m so excited to be in the play-off. Now I believe I can do something on the Asian Tour. I will try and get one trophy this year,” said the bubbly 27-year-old.