Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Viraj Madappa, kept his nerves carding a two-under 70, and with a tournament tally of 14-under 274 won the trophy at the Rs. 70 lakh TATA Steel PGTI MP Cup at Delhi Golf Club (DGC) here on Friday
The Kolkata golfer thus bagged his second professional title and his first win in three years and in the process picked up a cheque of Rs. 11,31,550 which pushed him up from ninth to third place in the PGTI Order of Merit..
Bengaluru golfer Khalin Joshi (69-66-69-71), who was well in control and a firm favorite to win the title till the 12th hole, slipped on the last six holes to sign a card of one-under 71 and finish runner-up at 13-under 275. He moved up from seventh to fifth place in the PGTI Order of Merit.
Delhi’s Rashid Khan (67-73-68-69) was one of the top three contenders till the 14th hole as he was in the joint lead. However, he dropped three shots over the last four holes to end the week in third place at 11-under 277.
The 23-year old Viraj Madappa, the overnight joint leader with Khalin Joshi, had a mixed front-nine making two birdies and two bogeys. On the 10th, Viraj made his second 15-feet conversion of the day to pick up another shot.
However, the 14th was the turning point, as both Viraj and Khalin found the bushes but Viraj was lucky to get a free drop due to his stance being on the cart path.
That lucky break for Viraj earned him a birdie on the 14th while Joshi dropped a bogey there and the former who earlier trailed the latter by a shot, now took a one-shot lead over him.
Viraj, who won his first and only previous title at the Asian Tour’s TAKE Solutions Masters 2018 in Bengaluru, hit it in the bushes again on the 17th but recovered well with an up and down for a good bogey.
With Khalin being in a good position to make birdie on the last hole, Madappa decided to go for birdie by playing aggressively and not looking for a lay-up. Viraj landed 50 yards short of the hole and made up and down for birdie on the 18th to emerge champion.
“I was confident today but yet stressed out from the very start as I haven’t been in the leader group in a few years. Since I’ve not been in this position for some time, it almost felt like a new experience. I played decent golf today but got lucky when Khalin, who was playing well, gave me a chance with his dropped shots on the 13th and 14th. The two-shot swing in my favour on the 14th proved to be crucial. I feel Khalin and I were both just a little scrappy today and not at our best.” Viraj said
“My iron game was great this week. I had great control over the irons. I was very confident hitting irons off the tee and off the fairway. I was placing it well on the fairway and was attacking flags that others weren’t. The pins were extremely challenging in the last round and that tested all the players.
“I’ve been playing well for some time but have not been putting four good rounds of golf together. I’m happy that I was consistent from start to finish this week. I feel I should get my mother to the course more often as I seem to win every time she is around,” added Madappa, who prior to his win this week had seven top-10s in the season including two runner-up finishes.
Khalin Joshi began the day with a 20-feet eagle conversion on the first and then had a tap-in birdie on the 10th to raise his hopes of victory. Joshi led by two shots till the 12th before finding the bushes on the 13th and 14th where he dropped consecutive bogeys. He had to take a penalty drop on the 14th while his playing partner Viraj got a free drop. Khalin made bogey-birdie on the last two holes to finish one shot behind Madappa.
Rashid Khan, overnight tied fifth and four off the lead made a charge on day four with six birdies on the first 14 holes. Rashid was in the joint lead along with Viraj after the 14th. However, Khan’s title hopes were dashed when he conceded a bogey on the 15th and a double-bogey on the 18th. He took third place.
Chandigarh’s Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (69) finished fourth at nine-under 279. Delhi’s Pawan Kumar shot the day’s best score of 67 to finish tied 11th at four-under 284. Shiv Kapur finished tied 16th at two-under 286. Karandeep Kochhar of Chandigarh continued to lead the PGTI Order of Merit after he ended the week in tied 20th place at one-under 287. Kolkata’s SSP Chawrasia finished tied 31st at two-over 290.
Arvind Khanna of the Delhi Golf Club, the only amateur to make the cut, won the trophy for the best performance by an amateur as he ended the week in tied 52nd place at 18-over 306.