Jaipur: It was indeed a ‘Royal’ finish in the land of kings, Rajasthan, as the final round of the inaugural Jaipur Open 2017 presented by Rajasthan Tourism saw five players rise into contention before the seasoned Shamim Khan snatched victory with a sublime seven-under-63.
Delhi-based Shamim came from behind to dash the title hopes of a bunch of players including overnight leader Vikrant Chopra of Noida. Khan totaled 20-under-260 for the week to bag his second title of the season and extend his lead in the PGTI Order of Merit.
Honey Baisoya, another Delhi golfer, delivered an error-free final round of 65 to finish runner-up at 19-under-261 at the Rs. 30 lakh.
Vikrant Chopra, the leader for the first three rounds, who entered the final round with a two-shot advantage, missed out on his maiden title after a last round of 69 that saw him drop to tied third at 18-under-262.
Kolkata’s Viraj Madappa, who recorded the tournament’s best round of nine-under-61, and Lucknow’s Sanjeev Kumar (67), also took a share of third place.
Shamim Khan (65-65-67-63), lying overnight fourth and four off the lead, made an early charge with three birdies on the first 10 holes that brought him within striking distance of the lead. The 39-year-old’s bogey on the 11th was his only blemish of the day which was quickly neutralized by consecutive birdies on the 13th and 14th, both tap-ins from three feet.
After a 20-feet birdie conversion on the 16th, the pro from the Delhi Golf Club, turned the contest on its head by draining it from 10 feet for eagle on the next which gave him a decisive two-shot lead. Honey Baisoya, Vikrant Chopra and Sanjeev Kumar couldn’t catch up with Khan thereafter. Shamim thus took home the winner’s cheque worth Rs. 4,50,000 and as a result pulled ahead by almost Rs. 5 lakh in the PGTI Order of Merit.
Shamim, who won his 14th professional title on Saturday, said, “I had a great start with couple of birdies on the first three holes. I then knew that a score of seven to eight under was possible and I did have a chance of climbing into contention.
“The back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th also helped me grow in confidence. The turning point for me was the birdie-eagle stretch on the 16th and 17th which resulted in a three-shot swing in my favour that suddenly put me two ahead and within reach of the title.
“Not playing in the leader group worked for me as it got my mind off the leaderboard and helped me focus on my game. I only ended up seeing the scores on the 17th tee and realized that I was within one shot of the lead.
“My iron-play was exceptional this week. I also played some extraordinary shots in each round. This win is a huge boost for my hopes to bag my second PGTI Order of Merit title,” added the consistent Khan, who won his first Order of Merit crown in 2012.
Honey Baisoya (67-64-65-65), overnight third and three off the lead, almost took the match into a playoff as his brilliant bunker shot for eagle on the 18th stopped an inch from the hole.
“I knew with two par-5s at the end I had an opportunity to take the match into a playoff but unfortunately I couldn’t grab a birdie on the 17th. I was then extremely focused during the bunker shot on the 18th and was trying to visualize all my successful bunker shots from the past. It was a great shot but missed the hole by a whisker,” said Baisoya, a winner of three titles on the PGTI.
Viraj Madappa also rose into contention for a brief spell on the final day thanks to his sizzling round of 61 that featured an eagle and seven birdies. He made six conversions from a range of 15 to 25 feet. Rookie Madappa, currently leading the PGTI Emerging Player of the Year race by a mile, was unlucky to miss out on eagle opportunities from 15 feet on both the 17th and 18th holes.
Vikrant Chopra looked comfortable till the 12th having knocked in three birdies to stay ahead by two shots. But a three-putt bogey on the 13th followed by another dropped shot on the 15th saw him slip out of the lead. Chopra did mount a challenge with a birdie on the 17th but his hopes faded away when his approach found the water on the 18th resulting in another bogey.
Sanjeev Kumar slipped from overnight second to tied third after shooting a final round of 67.