Harpal Singh Bedi
Gurugram: A double-bogey on the last hole cost Shiv Kapur the title as the former champion conceded a one-shot lead and finished tied second place with compatriot Chikkarangappa (67) at 12-under-204 while Korean teenager Joohyung Kim fired a seven-under-65 to bag Panasonic Open India tournament with a total of 13-under-203 at the Classic Golf and Country Club near here on Sunday.The 17-year old Joohyung Kim who became the second youngest Asian Tour winner showed he is ready for the big leagues. He was making what was only his third start on the Asian Tour this year. He produced another grandstand performance that belies his age with rounds of 70, 68 and 65 for a winning total of 13-under-par 203 at the US$400,000 event which was reduced to 54 holes.
Australia’s Terry Pilkadaris, who held a share of the overnight lead, carded 71 to finish in sole fourth place while Indonesia’s Rory Hie was tied for fifth with Chinese Taipei’s Hung Chie-yao and Vikrant Chopra.
Hie created history by becoming the first Indonesian to win on the Asian Tour just six weeks ago at the same Classic Golf and Country Club.
Last week Shiv (70),had lost out in a playoff at the Thailand Open last week, was again denied victory at the Panasonic Open India as he faltered at the crucial moments. Vikrant Chopra (10-under-206) and Veer Ahlawat (eight-under-208) claimed career-best finishes of tied fifth and tied eighth respectively.
Shiv Kapur (67-67-70), who was in a three-way lead after the penultimate round, mixed five birdies with a bogey and a double-bogey on Sunday. Kapur, the 2017 winner , was leading by one shot till he hit his tee shot out of bounds on the 18th. The Dubai-based golfer finally missed a 20-feet bogey putt that would’ve taken him into a playoff with Kim.
The Korean, later said, “I’m really speechless. It has been a dream of mine to play on the Asian Tour ever since I was young. It’s really wonderful to come here, be in contention and win. I cannot describe the feeling now. The season has been great especially coming back from my injuries and winning three times on the ADT and now this victory.”
Chikkarangappa (69-68-67) produced his best round of the week on Sunday to secure the joint runner-up position, his best for the season. Chikka got his confidence going with the early birdie on the third where he made an 11-feet conversion. The Bengalurean then added two more birdies and a bogey till the 10th. he managed to finish well with three birdies over the last five holes where he made two quality chip-putts and a 30-footer after a poor second shot on the 15th.
“I’ve been superb on the par-5s this week as my strategy to lay up within my favourite yardage with my approach shots worked wonders. I was 10-under on the par-5s through the tournament. My hitting and putting were very consistent but my wedge-play was my only weak link this week. I wasn’t as close to the pins with my wedges as I would’ve liked.” Chikka said
“As far as my driving is concerned, I’ve been working on gaining distance over the last two months by improving on my weight transfer during the swing. All that hard work is now paying off as I’ve added about 25 yards, from 285 yards to 310 yards, to my driving average.
“The season began well for me with a tied 20th at the Maybank Championship and tied 10th at the Hero Indian Open. Thereafter, I didn’t have any great result. But those good finishes at the start of the season gave me room to work on my game and make some changes which in turn have helped me.” he added
Vikrant Chopra (67-70-69) began the day with two 15-feet birdie conversions on the third and fifth before dropping his only bogey on the seventh where he three-putted. The eight to 10 feet birdie conversions on the 15th and 18th were proof of his good putting form.
Chopra said, “It’s been a pretty solid week for me especially on the greens. This is my best ever result on the Asian Tour. My previous best was tied eighth at the Panasonic Open India 2015. I’m pleased that I played well despite the tough conditions here at Classic.
“Coming into this event I was going through one of my worst seasons on the PGTI and was outside the top-60 of the Order of Merit. I had recently missed the cut in two big events including the Asian Tour event at Classic two months back. So, I badly needed a good finish this week. This top-5 now gives me a huge boost in the PGTI money list and raises my confidence.”
Veer Ahlawat (69-69-70) too improved on his previous best Asian Tour result which was tied 13th at the Classic Golf & Country Club International Championship held at the same venue two months back. Ahlawat attributed his good show to his sharp short-game.
The other Indians in the top-20 were Arjun Prasad and M Dharma (both tied 11th at seven-under-209) as well as Om Prakash Chouhan, Karandeep Kochhar, Khalin Joshi and Rashid Khan (all in tied 14th at six-under-210.