New Delhi: India’s Chiragh Kumar achieved his breakthrough win on the Asian Tour with a hard-fought three-shot triumph at the US$400,000 Panasonic Open India at the Delhi Golf Club on Sunday. Chiragh, who led the field from round two, dished out a tenacious two-under-70 at his home course in round four to end up with a tournament tally of 13-under-275.
PGTI member Md Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh fired an eventful even-par-72 in round four to share the second spot at 10-under-278 with Thai veteran Thaworn Wiratchant who produced a resolute three-under-69 on the final day.
The five other Indians in the top-10 were, Jyoti Randhawa and Shubhankar Sharma, both tied fourth at nine-under-279, and Manav Jaini, Shankar Das and Vikrant Chopra, all tied eighth at eight-under-280.
Chiragh Kumar (67-66-72-70), the overnight leader by one shot, came home the winner in front of his home crowd after making three birdies and a bogey in his steady final round. He took home US$72,000 for his effort which took him to 12thplace in the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
Chiragh’s long wait for an international title thus came to an end in his ninth season as a professional. The 31-year-old, with four titles on the PGTI under his belt, had earlier posted seven top-10s on the Asian Tour including a runner-up finish at the 2011 Indian Open at DGC.
Kumar had to keep Siddikur (68-70-68-72) at bay as they tied for the lead at the turn. The Indian holed a birdie on 11 to restore order but it was a huge 25-foot birdie putt on the 13th hole which gave him the edge.
Siddikur fought back with a birdie on 15 but two costly bogeys on 17 and 18 dashed his title hopes.
“I always knew that Siddikur will be a tough guy to beat especially when he was one-shot behind me. I’m lucky he didn’t get off to a hot start. It was neck and neck all the way but I kept myself together and played well,” said Kumar.
“I made that long putt on 13 and that gave me a two-shot cushion at that time. It definitely makes things easier to have some cushion especially at the Delhi Golf Club. I missed a short birdie on 14 but I told myself not to let it get to me,” he explained.
“Winning an Asian Tour event means a lot to me. I have come close once or twice in the past. I have actually been playing well for the last month and winning at the Delhi Golf Club makes it very special. I have grown up over here seeing senior players playing at this course and wanting to be at that stage and experiencing it today is really a dream come true,” said an emotional Chiragh.
The Delhi-based golfer reaped the rewards for the hard work that he put during the off season. “It’s has been a long off-season and put in a lot of hard work during the off-season. So a couple of weeks back when I finished second in Macao (last month), it was a big confidence boost. I have just taken it from there and played well,” he added.
Siddikur, a two-time Asian Tour winner who held an enviable record at DGC, felt pain in his lower back on the second hole when thoughts of retiring flashed through his mind. He received treatment from the physiotherapist on the fourth tee box which eased the pain for the remainder of the round.
“I thought I wasn’t able to play because I was hurt but the physiotherapist gave me some treatment on the fourth tee box and I felt better. I’m happy that I finished my round. I didn’t put any pressure on myself to do well or win because I could feel the pain in my back. The win didn’t come but it is okay,” said Siddikur, who claimed his fourth runner-up finish at DGC in an Asian Tour event and his second runner-up finish at the Panasonic Open India.
Indian veteran Jyoti Randhawa, who posted a final round 67, and Shubhankar Sharma, one of India’s rising stars, who came up with a 69 on Sunday, claimed a creditable tied fourth place along with PGTI member Mithun Perera (70) of Sri Lanka. They finished four shots adrift of the winner at nine-under-279.
The Indian trio of Manav Jaini (68), Shankar Das (69) and Vikrant Chopra (70) were a further shot behind in tied eighth place.
The other Indians in the top-20 were, Rashid Khan in tied 11th at seven-under-281, Rahil Gangjee, Sujjan Singh and Chikkarangappa, all in tied 12th at six-under-282, Sanjay Kumar, Khalin Joshi and Mukesh Kumar in tied 16th at five-under-283 and Gaganjeet Bhullar in tied 20th at four-under-284.
Scores after round 4 of the Panasonic Open India 2015 being played at the par 72, 6983 Yards Delhi GC course:
275 - Chiragh KUMAR (IND) 67-66-72-70.
278 - Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 68-72-69-69, Siddikur RAHMAN (BAN) 68-70-68-72.
279 - Namchok TANTIPOKHAKUL (THA) 71-71-71-66, Jyoti RANDHAWA (IND) 69-72-71-67, Shubhankar SHARMA (IND) 70-73-67-69, Mithun PERERA (SRI) 66-70-73-70.
280 - Manav JAINI (IND) 72-71-69-68, Shankar DAS (IND) 69-71-71-69, Vikrant CHOPRA (IND) 71-68-71-70.
281 - Rashid KHAN (IND) 71-71-69-70.
282 - Pariya JUNHASAVASDIKUL (THA) 74-72-68-68, Rahil GANGJEE (IND) 70-74-69-69, Sujjan SINGH (IND) 71-70-70-71, Chikka S. (IND) 69-71-68-74.
283 - Sanjay KUMAR (IND) 70-71-74-68, Khalin JOSHI (IND) 69-73-72-69, Mukesh KUMAR (IND) 70-71-72-70, Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 72-71-70-70.
284 - Niall KEARNEY (IRL) 71-71-74-68, Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 71-73-71-69, Pawin INGKHAPRADIT (THA) 70-68-75-71.