Khalin secures maiden Asian Tour title

Khalin secures maiden Asian Tour title

COMMON! Bengaluru pro Khalin Joshi exults after winning the Panasonic Open India golf tournament at the Delhi Golf Club in New Delhi on Sunday. ASIAN TOUR

Bengaluru’s Khalin Joshi sank an eight-footer birdie on the final 18th hole to clinch the Panasonic Open India in a thrilling contest at the Delhi Golf Club on Sunday.

With Joshi moving into the lead with a steady Siddikur Rahman after the 16th hole, it all came down to the final hole. Siddikur needed a 10-footer for a birdie while Khalin had chipped within eight feet to save a stroke. While the seasoned Bangladeshi missed the opportunity, Joshi sank the birdie to cap an exciting finish to the US$ 400,000 event.

With the birdie, Joshi fired a final round 68 to score a total of 17-under 271, leaving Siddikur trailing by one-stroke margin. Siddikur, who was the overnight joint leader with Joshi, finished at 16-under 272 with last round of 69.

“This win means the world to me,” said Joshi, a two-time runner-up on Asian Tour.

Joshi became the fifth Indian to win an Asian Tour title in 2018 after Shubhankar Sharma (Maybank Championships), Rahil Gangjee (Panasonic Open Japan), Gaganjeet Bhullar (Fiji International), Viraj Madappa (Take Solutions Masters). In between Gangjee also won the Louis Philippe Cup on the Asian Development Tour. Joshi also became the seventh Indian winner in eight editions of the Panasonic Open India.

Joshi’s score was the joint lowest in the history of the tournament as he equaled Shiv Kapur’s record from last year.

India’s Ajeetesh Sandhu came up with a fourth round of 70 to finish tied third at 14-under-274 along with Thailand’s Suradit Yongcharoenchai (69).

It wasn’t an ideal start by Joshi on Sunday. The 26-year-old fought back from two early bogeys to bounce back with six birdies, including a birdie-birdie finish as he had four birdies in the last five holes.

“The last four holes were key for me,” he said.

“I don’t know if it was nerves but just poor decision making, starting off with two bogeys. But I still knew that there was a lot of golf to be played. The birdie I made on eighth gave me a lot of confidence. I kept playing aggressive. In the 18th, I just knew I had the advantage over Siddikur because he didn’t have a driver. So I just knew that I had to keep it in play.”

Meanwhile, Aman Raj carded a final round of 69 to post a career-best fifth-place finish on the Asian Tour, while Kshitij Naveed Kaul, making his professional debut this week, had a dream start to his pro career as he claimed tied sixth place at 12-under 276 courtesy his last round of 68.

Last year’s champion Shiv Kapur (72) closed the week in tied 24th at five-under 283.

Scores after 72 holes (Indians unless mentioned): 271: Khalin Joshi (71, 68, 64, 68), 272: Siddikur Rahman (67, 66, 70, 69, Ban), 274: Ajeetesh Sandhu (67, 67, 70, 70), Suradit Yongcharoenchai (66, 67, 72, 69), 275: Aman Raj(70,68, 68, 69), 276: Jazz Janewattananond (68, 67, 73. 68, Tha), Matt Stieger (70, 69, 68, 69, Aus), Kshitij Naveed Kaul (72, 66, 70, 68).

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