Classy Chowrasia ends title drought

Classy Chowrasia ends title drought

SSP Chowrasia buried the ghost of the past at the Delhi Golf Club by capturing the $300,000 Panasonic Open in a three-way play-off here on Sunday.

Chowrasia had agonisingly missed out in the play-off in the 2006 India Open before narrowly losing the 2013 edition here. But on Sunday, the now three-time Asian Tour champion with a superb 66 marked by eight birdies, didn’t put a foot wrong.

An exciting final round ended in a tie at 12-under-276 and a confident Chowrasia beat overnight leader Rahil Gangjee and Sri Lankan Mithun Perera with a 15–foot birdie on par-5 18th hole.

“It is almost three years since I last won a title (Avantha Masters, 2011). At the start of the day, I was thinking if I could shoot a four or five-under, I will have a chance to win,” said the 36-year-old, who picked up a cheque of USD 54,000 for his first win of the season.

“I was focussed on making the birdie putt in the play-off. I always had the belief that I could win on the Asian Tour again. The win was important for my confidence.”

Gangjee, who led on all three days, undid his hard work of reaching the play-off by hitting his tee-shot to the bushes. His chip from the edge of the bunker for the birdie didn’t reach the desired destination that ended his challenge. Perera, who came closest to challenge Chowrasia, missed a 10-footer birdie, his shot losing steam inches before the hole.

“I missed out on a couple of chances towards the end and that just took the game away from me,” Gangjee shrugged.

Indian teenager Shubhankar Sharma (71) put up yet another impressive show, even leading briefly by two strokes. But bogeys on 11th and 13th hurt him. He, however, put himself in line for the play-off but missed a tough birdie chance on the 18th to lose out.
The lead, infact, exchanged hands several times during the day with as many as six players getting atop the leaderboard at some point in time. Defending champion Wade Ormsby was part of the leadergroup but ended at 10th place.

Gangjee couldn’t have got to a more terrible start in the morning. Three drop shots (3rd, 5th, 7th) on the front nine dislodged him from his top place, his putting being extremely erratic. Though he revived himself with an eagle on the 14th, he missed birdie putts on 15th and 17th. On 16th, he again missed a birdie putt before notching up his fourth bogey.  He, however, birdied the 18th to qualify for the play-off.

But it was the superb fightback by Chowrasia that was the highlight of the day. The Kolkata golfer rose to the occasion in the final round, beginning five strokes behind the leader. After an ordinary start, Chowrasia turned things around with a splendid show on the back-nine. The three back-to-back birdies on 15th, 16th, 17th proved to be the turning point and propelled him as the joint leader.

Chowrasia ended his round in company of Perera, who conjured 70 in the final round, and then watched Gangjee making it a three-way lead.

 “I did good but Chowrasia played better than all of us,” said Perera.

Leading scores (after 72 holes, Indians, unless mentioned): 276: SSP Chowrasia (70, 71, 69, 66), Mithun Perera (Sri, 70, 67, 69, 70), Rahil Gangjee( 66, 68, 71, 71). Chowrasia wins via play-off. 277: Shubhankar Sharma (73, 65, 68,71); 278: Akinori Tani (Jpn, 71, 72, 67, 68), Unho Park (Aus, 69, 71, 68, 70), Siddikur Rahman (Ban 70, 67, 69, 72); 279: Jazz Janewattananond (Tha, 69, 70, 71, 69), Panuphol pittayarat (Tha, 70, 68, 69, 72); 280: Rashid Khan (68, 70, 71, 71); 281: Shankar Das (69, 71, 73, 68), Atthaphon Sriboonkaew (Tha, 73, 70, 68, 70), Lionel Weber (Fra, 73, 66, 69, 73), Wade Ormsby (Aus, 68, 68, 70, 75).

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