Pariya becomes first foreign golfer to win McLeod Russel Tour Championship

Pariya JunhasavasdikulKolkata: It was a Christmas to remember for Thailand's Pariya Junhasavasdikul as he became the first foreign golfer to win the McLeod Russel Tour Championship on the final day at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) here on Sunday.

The 32-year-old drove home the overnight two-shot advantage with an unwavering final round of one-under 71 for a wire-to-wire winning tally of 15-under 273 to win the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI)'s year-ending event.

"This was my first time here (in Kolkata)," Pariya said at the presentation ceremony.

"The atmosphere was so friendly here, it was even better than the Thai Tour. They too don't have this atmosphere," the Bangkok-based golfer said.

Delhi's Rashid Khan bagged his second golfer of the year title after finishing runner-up with a total of 12-under 276 thanks to a sedate final round of 72.

Rashid zoomed from fourth to number one in the 2016 ranking with season's earnings of Rs. 44,79,880. He had previously won the ranking crown in 2013.

"I always knew I had a chance (of finishing top of the rankings heap) if I could finish second here," Khan told reporters later.

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"I came back really strong this year. I had a bike accident in June and was out of action for a month. It was really hard staying away from golf during that period. I was dying to play golf.

"But then once I did come back, it went well. I won a meet in Sri Lanka and then a local one in India. I had a food poisoning bout in Taiwan as well. So it was hard, but I fought harder," the 25-year-old added.

Shamim Khan of Delhi matched the course record with his phenomenal last round of nine-under 63 to finish tied third along with Gaganjeet Bhullar and Kolkata's S.S.P. Chawrasia at 10-under 278.

As a result of his outstanding 63, Shamim grabbed second place in the ranking with earnings of Rs. 41,16,458.

Patna-based rookie Aman Raj took a share of 10th place at four-under 284. He thus finished on top in the PGTI emerging player of the year race with the highest earnings among the rookies (Rs. 10,34,427).