HARPAL SINGH BEDI / Gurugram
Shiv Shankar Prasad Chawrasia bestrode the DLF course like a colossus reducing the last day’s play to virtually no contest as he defended his title at the Hero Indian open with a stunning seven -shot win here today.
As his challengers withered away , Chawrasia virtually sealed the title on 13th whole by which he had taken an unassailable 8-shot lead and he looked set to create a tournament record of biggest victory margin but he dropped a shot on the 18th and had to be content with equaling the 52-year old record of 7- shot win by P.G. Sethi.
Chawrasia completed the final round one under 71 and aggregated 10 under 278. His nearest rival Malaysian Gavin Green , who had five under 67 penultimate round , caved in under pressure in the crucial round and carded 3 over 75 for a total of 3 under-285
The victory fetched Chawrasia a cheque of USD 291,660 while Gavin Green earned USD 194,440 for his effort.
Chwarasia , become the second Indian after Jeev Milkha Singh to bag four European Tour titles, tamed the treacherous DLF Golf & Country Club course with scores of 72, 67, 68 and to also become the first player to retain the title since Jyoti Randhawa, who achieved the feat in 2007.
The defending champion sounded an alarm to all his rivals early in the day when he drained a hat trick of birdies on the 13th, 14th and 15th in his unfinished third round. The birdie blitz gave him a crucial two-shot lead at nine-under at the end of round three.
Earlier Chawrasia returned to complete seven holes of his third round in the morning .He birdied the 13th, 14th – where he chipped in – and 15th to get to nine under.
He started with three successive pars before sinking his a first birdie of the round and a four-shot lead. That was reduced to three as he failed on the sixth and while he dropped another shot on the seventh, a smart birdie after laying up extended the advantage on the eighth. Another birdie on the ninth and the Indian was in total control of the proceedings with a five-shot lead at the turn.
The Kolkata based pro was totally focused and another birdie on the 13th made him unbeatable as he was 11 under before he bogeyed the last due to an ultra-cautious game-plan.
Green was not able to challenge Chawrasia’s hegemony , making two birdies and five bogeys in a 75 that helped him seal his first European Tour top ten.
Scotsman Scott Jamieson signed for a 72 to finish eight shots behind the leader alongside Italy’s Matteo Manassero, who finished with a 73.
Spaniard Carlos Pigem finished with a seven on the last to drop to one under alongside countryman Rafa Cabrera Bello and 2015 champion Anirban Lahiri.
Thai Prayad Marksaeng produced the first albatross of the season.
After the win , a delighted Chawrasia said “This is probably my best win of my career as it was a really tough course. This week, I made less mistakes and others made more mistakes. I’m actually not calmed, I know what’s going on in my body because it’s so tough”.
“I feel great as it’s one of the toughest courses I’m playing and winning by seven shots, I’m really happy. Also repeat the title also. Only hard work. That’s the thing. I gave my 100% and I practiced a lot on everything”.
“I’m not comfortable on the course, I’m nervous on every single shot. When I finished the round, I knew I had a few shots lead into the final round. I didn’t need birdies, just aiming for pars in the final round.
“Honestly, this is very special to win back to back. I think this is one of the toughest I’ve played in my career., he admitted
“ I learned many things this week and hopefully I can play better in Europe. That’s my target next, I have to win in Europe.
“ I just played good this week, obviously some luck too. Jeev was telling me to calm down and play my own game and don’t look at others. I told him I’ll follow his advice and follow the same routine. he added.
Here are some of the stats relating to SSP Chawrasia’s victory at the Hero Indian Open 2017
With this win:
· SSP Chawrasia became the second Indian after Jeev Milkha Singh to bag four European Tour titles, his sixth win on the Asian Tour and overall sixth international victory
· Chawrasia became the second Indian after Jyoti Randhawa to successfully defend the Indian Open title, Randhawa, a three-time winner, won back-to-back in 2006 and 2007 at the Delhi Golf Club
· Chawrasia became the third Indian after Jyoti Randhawa (2000, 2006 & 2007) and Ali Sher (1991 & 1993) to win the Indian Open on multiple occasions (2016 & 2017)
· Chawrasia became the first Indian to win back-to-back Indian Open titles at different venues (DGC & DLF Golf & Country Club)
· Chawrasia became the second Indian after Jyoti Randhawa to win the Indian Open at two different venues, Randhawa had won it at Classic Golf Resort, Gurgaon in 2000 and at the Delhi Golf Club in 2006 and 2007
· Chawrasia now has five international wins in India, the most by any Indian golfer besides Jyoti Randhawa who also has five wins to his credit
· The third consecutive win for India at the Indian Open, Anirban Lahiri won it in 2015 and SSP Chawrasia won his first in 2016
· The 13th Indian win in European Tour history
· The first time India have won the same European Tour event in three consecutive seasons