Harpal Singh BedI
Pune: Holding his nerves, Delhi teenager Kshitij Naveed Kaul fired four-under-67 last round to clinch the Pune Open Golf title by one shot here on Friday.
Yashas Chandra cards day’s best score to finish a close second
The 18-year-old Kaul’s (69-67-66-67) triumph at the Poona Club Golf Course saw him close the week with a total of 15-under-269 and made him the third-youngest winner on the TATA Steel PGTI after Karandeep Kochhar and Shubhankar Sharma both of whom won on the tour as 17-year-olds.
Mysuru’s Yashas Chandra (68-68-68-66) carded the last day’s best score of five-under-66 to finish a close second at 14-under-270 at the Rs. 30 lakh event.
Kaul, the round three joint leader, had n uneven final round as he struggled to achieve accuracy with his tee shots. However, the former India No. 1 in the junior and amateur category, managed to salvage the day with his brilliant short-game.
The winner who became richer by Rs. 4,84,950, climbed from fifth to third place in the TATA Steel PGTI Order of Merit. His earnings for the season now read Rs. 11,59,650.
Kaul, who had posted two top-5s including a runner-up finish earlier in the season, said, “My hitting was all over the place today but I did really well within 100 yards of the green. My chipping and putting got me out of trouble on a number of occasions today. I attribute my win to good course management and perfect execution of my plans and strategy.
“The birdie chip-in on the 12th gave me a lot of self-belief. That set the tone for the remaining holes. I wasn’t following the leaderboard and only looked at it after walking onto the 18th green. So I was quite relaxed through the round.
““A win so early in my career is a huge morale-booster. I was encouraged by the presence of my mother and maternal grandfather during the tournament. I dedicate this win to an aunt of mine who passed away last week,” said Kaul. .
Yashas Chandra’s bogey-free 66 helped him gain two spots and finish runner-up. The 2018 PGTI Emerging Player of the Year had taken the lead on the final day when he made his fifth birdie of the round on the 13th. He missed a hole-in-one by one foot on the 13th.
However, Yashas slowed down thereafter with pars all the way till the end. He narrowly missed a birdie on the last as his putt stopped inches from the hole. A birdie there could’ve taken him into a playoff with Kaul.
Bengaluru’s Syed Saqib Ahmed (70) and round three joint leader Shankar Das (72) of Kolkata took a share of third place at 10-under-274.
Pravin Pathare and Pratik Nirmale had the best finish among the Pune-based professionals. The duo closed the week in tied 24th at one-over-285.
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