Ahmedabad Masters: Khalin’s final round heroics earn him title

Khalin Joshi receives the trophy and chequeAhmedabad: Bangalore’s Khalin Joshi shot a course record nine-under-63 on the final day to register a sensational come-from-behind victory at the PGTI Ahmedabad Masters presented by Kalhaar Blues & Greens. Joshi signed off with a 17-under-271 total to bag his second professional crown. Chikkarangappa, another Bangalorean, finished runner-up at 15-under-273 after his final round of five-under-67.

Khalin Joshi (70-67-71-63), who was placed eight shots off the lead in fifth place after round three, came out firing on all cylinders on Friday to steamroll all opposition in sight. The 22-year-old began the day with an eagle-birdie on the first two holes courtesy a perfect approach shot on the first which found the hole and a 15-feet conversion on the second.

Khalin emerged top contender for the title when he struck four birdies on the trot from the sixth through the ninth to go past overnight leader Shubhankar Sharma who dropped two strokes on the front nine. Joshi’s four consecutive birdies featured two conversions from a range of 10 to 15 feet.

Khalin all but nailed it with two more birdies on the 11th and 12th even as Shubhankar slipped out of contention after conceding four more strokes from the 10th to the 12th. Joshi, who won his first title at Noida in October last year, landed it within five feet on the ninth and 11th and was two-on on the par-5s eighth and 12th.

Khalin thus broke the previous course record of 64 set by Anirban Lahiri in the opening round of last year’s PGTI Ahmedabad Masters. Joshi, who took home the winner’s cheque worth Rs. 6 lakh, has now climbed from eighth place to third position in the Rolex Rankings. The Bangalore lad’s earnings for the year now stand at Rs. 10,57,093. Mukesh Kumar of Mhow continues to lead the rankings with earnings of Rs. 14,70,780.

“I’m delighted to have won after shooting a 63 in such tough and windy conditions. I had a terrific front-nine and was seven-under for the day at the turn. However, I was not aware of the leaderboard till the 16th. All I knew was that I was within striking distance of matching my personal best of 10-under.

“I struck the ball well through the week but the putts rolled in for me only on the final day. I sank three putts from a range of 10 to 15 feet. The highlight of the day though was the approach shot from 160 yards out on the first. It was a perfect six-iron shot which bounced one foot short of the pin before dropping into the hole for an eagle. I was really comfortable on the course today and knew I could shoot a low score from the very outset.

“My scoring has become much more consistent in recent months and my short game is shaping up well. I now want to make the best of my limited opportunities on the Asian Tour and try to earn my card for the 2016 season in Asia. I’m also glad to have won in Gujarat as I’m a Gujarati. This win will make my grandfather Mr. Natwar Lal Joshi very proud. I dedicate this win to him,” said Khalin.

Chikkarangappa (69-66-71-67) held on to his overnight second place with a round of 67 that included eight birdies and three bogeys. Chikka had three birdies on the last five holes to reduce the gap to two strokes between himself and Joshi.

Shubhankar Sharma (69-65-66-77) shot a disappointing five-over-77 to slip from overnight first to third place at 11-under-277. Sharma dropped out of the race after making bogeys on the fourth, eighth, 11th and 12th and a double-bogey on the 10th as he couldn’t replicate his iron-play from the first three rounds. The turning point for Shubhankar was the bogey on the eighth where he found the water. The Gurgaon-based professional picked up his only birdie of the day on the 17th.

Sri Lankan Anura Rohana and Delhi’s Rashid Khan were joint fourth at 10-under-278 while Kolkata’s SSP Chawrasia and Sanjeev Kumar of Lucknow were a further three shots back in tied sixth.

Kolkata’s Rahil Gangjee was tied 12th at two-under-286 while Sri Lankan Mithun Perera ended tied 19th at one-over-289.

Patna’s Aman Raj, the lone amateur to make the cut, won the trophy for the best performance by an amateur. He finished 43rd at 11-over-299.