Angad Cheema bags All India Amateur golf title

Chandigarh: Angad Cheema beat Gagan Verma 5 & 4 in the All India Amateur golf 36-hole final and got one of his best birthday presents at the Chandigarh Golf Club on Sunday. The match was well-contested till the closing stages when Angad seemed to pack in a little more power and moved away ahead.

As the match wore on, Angad found his form and rhythm. For Verma, who has won numerous titles in other events, was once again thwarted at the flagship event.

Angad, who turns 22 on January 25, began a little shakily and fell back three holes within the first five, as Verma came out full guns blazing.  Angad, who recently won the RCGC Cup, recovered his poise and won back the sixth and seventh holes to reduce the lead to just one. Verma won the eighth and made 2-up. But Angad again hit back and by the time the first 18 holes were over, Angad had moved 1-up. From there on despite Verma giving a great fight, Angad kept his nose slightly ahead.

Into the second session, Angad won the 19th and Verma won the 21st with a birdie and the match was still very close with Angad just one-up. The next three holes on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th were all halved, but suddenly Angad hit top gear.

He won the next three holes from 25th to 27th in a row and opened a four-hole lead. On the 28th Angad's ball lipped out for a birdie while Verma also missed the putt for a birdie. The 29th was halved with pars and the 30th, too, was parred. The 31st hole was halved with par.

On the 32nd Verma bogeyed and Angad won it to make it 5-up with four to go and wrapped up the title.

One of the oldest amateur championships in the world, the All India Amateur Championship started in 1892 and is run by the Indian Golf Union. It has a 36-hole stroke play qualifying competition over the first two days from which the leading 32 players proceed to the match play knockout event.

The two-time defending champion S Chikkarangappa was eliminated earlier in the quarter-finals.