New Delhi, March 20 (IANS) S.S.P. Chawrasia produced a gutsy performance under difficult conditions circumstances to win the Hero Indian Open 2016 at the Delhi Golf Club here on Sunday.
This is the Kolkata golfer’s first success at the tournament after finishing second no less than four times since 1999.
Chawrasia, who started the day two strokes ahead of Terry Pilkadaris (76) and four clear of Anirban Lahiri (69) and Rashid Khan (72), shot one-under 71 including a superb birdie on the 18th hole.
He totalled 15-under 273, while Lahiri and Jeunghun Wang (68) were joint second at 13-under 275. Rashid Khan finished tied-sixth, while Shiv Kapur (70) was at the shared 10th spot along with fellow Indian Rahil Gangjee (72).
Chawrasia took home the winner’s purse of $276,660 and also got his European Tour card back.
“I tried to keep myself calm despite three birdies in a row by Anirban but I was worried when I bogeyed the sixth. Still I stayed focus and that helped in the end,” he said. “I am thankful to Jeev for the advice.”
Chawrasia had finished second in this event four times, including last year when Lahiri defeated him in a play-off. But on Sunday, he held his nerves down the final stretch to claim a third European Tour title by two shots. It was also his fourth Asian Tour win.
Lahiri and Chawrasia were both at the top spot after the sixth hole. Lahiri was three-under and Chawrasia was one-over at that stage.
On the 18th hole, Chawrasia hit a poor second shot, but a brilliant third shot gave him a birdie chance from three feet. Lahiri, needing to be one better on the final hole to force a play-off, hit the board at the sponsor’s marquee and managed only a par, while Chawrasia birdied to emerge as the winner.
In 16 previous appearances, Chawrasia had ten top tens on the New Delhi layout with two wins, and he showed all his skill around the narrow, tree-lined course to claim a long-awaited national open title.
The win sees the 37 year old reclaim his European Tour playing privileges, which he narrowly lost last season after finishing 113th on The Race to Dubai.
“This is very important for me because I get a full card and most probably I’m playing the Olympics and the World Cup also so it’s very, very important for me,” he said.
“I was a four-time runner-up in this event and I was thinking for a long time, ‘I have to win this tournament’. That’s my dream and I got it.
“I think every Indian player looks at this tournament as the biggest. It is our national championship and a huge honour for me. There was a lot of pressure on me on the last hole but Anirban missed his birdie putt and I played a nice chip there. When Anirban missed I knew I would win the tournament,” he added.