Composed Anirban keeps title

Composed Anirban keeps title

Composed Anirban keeps title

Despite battling a sudden dip in form that had him seething from time and again, Lahiri managed to stitch together an exceptional final-round score of two-under 70 to emerge victorious by four strokes after totalling 11-under 277 at the Karnataka Golf Association here on Saturday.

Left to rue a cold-putter for the third day in succession, round one pace-setter Amardip Sinh Malik (73) finished second while former Indian Open winner and veteran Vijay Kumar nearly looked like rolling back the clock before signing off a disappointing third at 282.
While the margin of victory for Lahiri might suggest a lop-sided affair, the drama on the final day was nothing less than rivetting with the local boy just about coming through unscathed. With just one stroke lead overnight, Lahiri appeared to be under pressure when he dropped a stroke on the par-4 first after getting stuck between two trees with his tee shot.

Thereafter Lahiri, who pocketed the winner’s cheque of 16,16,500, struggled to keep his driving intact. Balls kept flying everywhere, sometimes to the adjoining fairways, leaving him wondering as to what was going wrong with his game. His efforts to bring his driving back in order just kept getting tougher.

However, putting, so crucial for success at this unforgiving course, eventually made the difference between Lahiri and others. The 23-year-old countered his wayward shot-making with some brilliant short-game play, reeling off remarkable birdies as well some crucial par saves. Credit must be given for the way he kept his cool with Amardip and Vijay snapping at his heels until the 16th.

“I am really happy with the way I kept my composure,” said Lahiri. “The margin of victory might be huge, but for somebody out on the course today would know how difficult it was. Although I dropped a stroke on the first, I hung in there and never surrendered the lead, which I am happy about. It’s my first title at KGA since winning my maiden and only junior crown 11 years ago.”

After the opening blunder, Lahiri was in a spot of bother on the second too when he found a hazard on the left. But he drove it back on the fairway before a wonderful chip-in for par from 20 feet pumped him up.

After birdieing from eight feet on the third, he picked up a stroke again on the par-3 eighth but bogeyed the 10th. However, he quickly buried the disappointment to birdie the 11th before sinking a remarkable 20-footer birdie on the 15th that pretty much sealed his title.

Leading scores (after 72 holes): 277: Anirban Lahiri (68, 68, 71, 70); 281: Amardip Sinh Malik (64, 71, 73, 73); 282: Vijay Kumar (70, 70, 70, 72); 283: Ajeetesh Sandu (69, 73, 70, 71); 284: Ashok Kumar (70, 74, 71, 69), Gaganjeet Bhullar (75, 65, 74, 70), Himmat Singh Rai (73, 70, 69, 72), Digvijay Singh (70, 70, 71, 73); 285: Shamim Khan (67, 74, 74, 70), Manav Jaini (69, 69, 73, 74); 286: Ranjit Singh (72, 75, 71, 68), Gaurav Pratap Singh ( 69, 73, 72, 72).