Gangjee ends 14-year title drought with Panasonic Open triumph

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Osaka (Japan), April 22 (IANS) Indian golfer Rahil Gangjee ended a 14-year title drought by closing with a three-under 68 for a one-shot victory over South Koreans Hyungsung Kim and Junggon Hwang at the Panasonic Open Golf Championship here on Sunday.

Despite the immense pressure on the 18th hole, Gangjee managed to hit his bunker shot out to within 10 feet of the pin. The 39-year-old went on to sink that decisive birdie and win his second Asian Tour title with his four-day total of 14-under 270.

Gangjee admitted he had self-doubts after not being able to enjoy much success since his last Asian Tour win in China in 2004. However, it was his sheer will power that brought him back into the winner’s circle after enduring years of frustration.

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“It has been 14 years. I’ve been in such situations a few times now but obviously have not been able to convert my chances until today. It has been a very hard 14 years and the thing that surprises even myself is my will to keep going,” he was quoted as saying by a release from Asian Tour.

“Everyone will play their part in helping you out, the caddie, the mother, the father, the wife, friends. But more than anything else, you have to want it. And that has kept me going,” he added.

“When you do not deliver after so many times, you start to doubt yourself And when you finally deliver, it’s a very big thing.”

Besides a two-year winners’ exemption on the Asian Tour, Gangjee will also earn a two-year exemption on the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO).

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Zimbabwean Scott Vincent continued to knock on the winner’s door when he signed off with a 66 to finish in a share of fourth place that also included Thailand’s Rattanon Wannasrichan and Sihwan Kim of the United States.

Although India’s Shiv Kapur closed with a 75, it was enough to win the Panasonic Swing series where he earned the top bonus prize of $70,000 and an exemption into an event on the European Tour this year.

Ajeetesh Sandhu was 10th after a 69 took his total to nine-under 275.

–IANS

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