New Delhi: India's Anirban Lahiri sealed his second European Tour title in three weeks as he defeated compatriot SSP Chawrasia in a playoff at the Delhi Golf Club to etch his name on the coveted Indian Open trophy. Anirban came home the winner after sinking a long birdie putt during the playoff. Lahiri and Chawrasia had earlier ended the regulation 72 holes with identical totals of seven-under-277.
Anirban's win, the first by an Indian at the Indian Open in six years, is likely to propel him from his current world ranking of 39 to somewhere close to the top-30. The prolific Lahiri became the eighth Indian winner of the Indian Open and it was the 11th occasion that the tournament was won by an Indian. It was also the 68th international title won by an Indian.
Lahiri (73-65-70-69), who was overnight tied sixth, posted a tenacious two-under-69 on a high-scoring day even as overnight leader Chawrasia (65-67-69-76) struggled in the blustery conditions to return with a disappointing five-over-76.
Lahiri, who started the day seven shots behind Chawrasia, took advantage of the latter’s stuttering form when he turned in 34 before trading one birdie against one bogey on the back nine. But it was a magical chip-in par on the 17th hole which kept him in the title race.
Chawrasia scrambled through the day as a result of the blustery conditions. He found the bushes on two occasions and also missed the greens a few times that led to his five bogeys and a double-bogey. He could only manage two birdies in the final round.
Both players finished on seven-under-277 in regulation play and returned to the 18th hole for the playoff where Lahiri sealed the win with a birdie from inside 10-feet. Chawrasia’s title hopes faded when his tee shot landed under thick branches.
The victory accounted for Lahiri’s seventh Asian Tour title and second European Tour win. The 27-year-old from Bangalore playing in his rookie season on the European Tour, who had just two weeks back lifted the Maybank Malaysian Open trophy, is now ranked second in the European Tour Race to Dubai. Anirban’s 15th career title also made him the second Indian to record multiple victories in the same European Tour season following Jeev Milkha Singh in 2006.
“The new Hero Indian Open winner? That has a nice ring to it. I’m shocked. I really didn’t think that I will be in this position considering the way S.S.P. and Siddikur have been playing. I thought all of us were playing for third,” said Lahiri, who registered his fourth playoff win at the DGC.
“This has been a childhood dream so it is very special to keep the Indian Open trophy at home. Every Indian puts winning the Indian Open on their bucket list. I couldn’t have asked for a better day,” smiled Lahiri, who is the first local to win the Indian Open since C Muniyappa’s victory in 2009.
“It was a tough day with the wind switching its direction and the tricky pin positions. But that chip-in was crucial. I didn’t want to come down 18, needing to eagle it. Even when I played 18 in regulation play, I thought I needed to birdie it. That chip-in was easily the shot of the day. It was magical when it went in,” said Lahiri.
He added, “This win will boost my world ranking and open a lot of doors for me. I have a very good chance of playing The Masters now.”
Chawrasia, a two-time European Tour winner, was gracious in defeat despite finishing second for the fourth time in his National Open. He settled for runner-up in 1999, 2006 and 2013.
“It’s been a great week and I played well for three days and had some bad shots in the final round but it’s ok. The problem today was the wind. It was gusting a lot and made it very difficult,” he explained.
“I am proud of myself for hanging in there to make the playoff and there is always a next time. Anirban is a great friend and he played well to win the playoff. I’m playing well and hopefully it continues like this.”
PGTI member Mithun Perera of Sri Lanka enjoyed his best result in 2015 when he posted a 69 to share third place alongside Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng (71), Marcus Fraser (72) of Australia and Joakim Lagergren (69) of Sweden at six-under-278.
Md Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh made it four PGTI members in the top-10 as he claimed tied seventh place at five-under-279. He had a final round of five-over-76.
Among the other Indians in the field, Shubhankar Sharma and Jyoti Randhawa finished tied 17th at one-under-283, while Rashid Khan, Manav Jaini and Jeev Milkha Singh were a further shot back in tied 24th.
Arjun Atwal and Chikkarangappa shared 31st place at one-over-285. Mukesh Kumar was in joint 35th at two-over-286 and Amardip Sinh Malik, Kapil Kumar and Chiragh Kumar were a shot behind in tied 39th.
Om Prakash Chouhan was tied 50th at five-over-289, Angad Cheema was tied 63rd at eight-over-292 and Shiv Kapur ended in 68th place at 10-over-294.