Shankar Das posts spectacular 65 for his third win in Digboi

Shankar Das Winner of IndianOil Servo Masters 2015Digboi: Kolkata’s Shankar Das bagged his third IndianOil Servo Masters crown with a spectacular seven-under-65 in the final round at the Digboi Golf Links in Digboi, Assam. Das’ tournament tally read an impressive 20-under-268 as he was two shots clear of the field at the Rs 30 lakh event. Mukesh Kumar of Mhow, a six-time winner in Digboi, claimed the runner-up position at 18-under-270 as a result of his final round 66.

Shankar Das (66-71-66-65), who started the day in the joint lead, had a slow start as he three-putted for bogey on the first. He then played the third and fourth to perfection to pick up two strokes and make up for the early setback. Shankar, the 2010 and 2011 IndianOil Servo Masters champion, almost drove the green on the par-4 third before hitting his tee shot within a couple of feet for a tap-in on the next hole.

Shankar established himself as the clear leader with birdies on the seventh and ninth. The 31-year-old reigning Rolex Ranking champion chipped it to within two feet on both occasions. Das began to pull away after gaining a stroke on the 11th where once again he landed his wedge with great precision within a few inches of the cup. The turning point for Shankar was the par-4 14th where he made an eagle for the second straight day after driving the green.

Das finally sealed the affair with his final birdie on the 16th after setting up yet another tap-in. He shot the day’s best round for the second straight day. Shankar took home his sixth title and a cheque worth Rs. 4,50,000 to climb from 15th to 10th place in the Rolex Ranking. His prize money earnings for the year read Rs. 12,80,653.

Bengaluru’s Chikkarangappa continues to lead the money list with earnings of Rs. 26,37,440. Mukesh Kumar’s second place finish in Digboi pushed him from fourth place to third position in the rankings.

An elated Shankar, who finished runner-up last year, said, “I’m delighted to have produced my best effort of the week when it mattered the most. It was good to come back after the initial bogey. This course has become one of my happy hunting grounds over the years. I really enjoy playing at the Digboi Golf Links and always know I can come back here despite a poor start in a round. It’s my first title this season and this gives me the much-needed momentum for the last three events of the year.

“I rate this win very high among all my wins since I managed to keep Mukesh (Kumar) at bay at one of his favourite venues. My kids kept calling me from home and reminding me that I need to win this one for them. So this win is special for that reason as well.

“I’ve learnt not to put pressure on myself by thinking too much about the result. Instead, I focus more on the process. That worked for me today. I hit it with precision through the day and once again made eagle on the 14th. The eagle was the defining moment of the day. It gave me a cushion at the top,” added Shankar.

Mukesh Kumar (66-68-70-66), who was third after round three, kept in touch with the lead with three birdies and a lone bogey on the front-nine. His strong iron-play earned him four more birdies on the back-nine. The 50-year-old veteran shot a clinical 66 on the final day but still fell short by two strokes.

Mukesh said, “I played really well today. I kept hitting it close but the early bogey on the second made a huge difference. I was unlucky to hit the tree with my tee shot on the second fairway as my ball got deflected to the right. That was the only error of the day. Shankar deserved the win as he outplayed everyone else.”

Gaurav Pratap Singh (65-71-67) of Noida, the overnight joint leader, carded a 69 on day four to finish third at 16-under-272.

Vinod Kumar of Delhi, who mounted an early challenge with four birdies on the front-nine, ended up with a 69, to claim fourth place at 13-under-275.

Bengaluru’s M Dharma was a further two shots back in fifth place.