Ashok Kumar prevails in playoff over Ajeetesh Sandhu, lifts 13th PGTI title, Vikrant Chopra finishes 3rd

Ashok Kumar PGTI MastersMewat: Ashok Kumar of the DLF Golf & Country Club, Gurgaon, prevailed in a playoff over Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu to lift his 13th PGTI title at the PGTI Masters 2016 being played at the Classic Golf & Country Club in Mewat, Haryana.

Ashok Kumar (68-67-70-66) and Ajeetesh Sandhu (65-71-68-67) were in a deadlock after the regulation 72 holes as both totaled 17-under-271. After both made pars on the first playoff hole, the second extra hole turned out to be decisive as Ashok converted a six-footer for birdie to clinch the title even as Ajeetesh made par.

Ashok Kumar, who last won on the PGTI nearly a year back in Mumbai, a victory also achieved on the second playoff hole, came out firing on all cylinders on Friday as he produced the day’s best of six-under-66.

Ashok, placed third, one off the lead, after round three, got his act together with four birdies on the front-nine in round four to pose a serious threat to overnight joint leader Ajeetesh Sandhu.

After making two long birdie putts on the eighth and ninth, the 33-year-old Ashok conceded a bogey on the 12th against the run of play. However, the 2010 Rolex Ranking champion came roaring back with birdies on the 14th, 17th and 18th to take the match into a playoff.

Ajeetesh had drained five birdies till the 16th and the match seemed to be going his way but Ashok turned it around with a 20-feet conversion on 17 and a magnificent chip on 18 which he almost holed.

Ashok then took advantage of being the longer hitter in the playoff against Ajeetesh on the par-5 18th to claim his first title of the season.

Ashok said, “I knew I had the advantage going into the playoff on the 18th as it is a long hole and my iron-play has been terrific this week. I made some long putts today and I feel the turning point was the birdie-birdie finish on 17 and 18 in regulation play that got me into the playoff. The 20-feet conversion on 17 was crucial.

“I’ve practiced a lot in recent months, much more than ever before, and that has produced the results for me. I’ve posted top-10s in my last three events. My career has seen several ups and downs but I’ve not let that play too much on my mind and instead stayed the course.

“I’m now keen to go for the Asian Tour Qualifying School early next year in order to get my Asian Tour card. I’m working towards that goal and mental focus will be the key if I have to get my card in Asia,” said Ashok, who has now moved up from 48th to 10th position in the Rolex Ranking.

Runner-up Ajeetesh, who rounded off his week with an error-free 67, has now moved up from fourth spot to number one in the Rolex Ranking with season’s earnings of Rs. 18,37,268. Panchkula’s Shubhankar Sharma is second in the money list with earnings of Rs. 16,42,680.

Noida’s Vikrant Chopra claimed a distant third at 14-under-274 after a final round of four-under-68.

Chandigarh’s Sujjan Singh, Delhi’s Shamim Khan and C Muniyappa of Bengaluru, the overnight joint leader, shared fourth place at 11-under-277.