Final day at the PGTI Players Championship - Tour Insight
Seventeen-year-old Karandeep Kochhar upset the big guns at Tolly; became the youngest player and first Indian amateur to win on the PGTI.
Kolkata, November 4, 2016: The final day at the PGTI Players Championship presented by Tollygunge Club turned out to be the defining day of 17-year-old amateur Karandeep Kochhar’s fledgling golfing career. The Chandigarh lad wreaked havoc on the final day, shooting an eight-under-62, the best round of the tournament, to upset some of the top professionals in the country en route to his three-shot triumph.
Karandeep (66-68-62), who totalled 14-under-196 in the three-round event became the youngest player to win on the PGTI at the age of 17 years, 5 months. In the process, he broke the previous record held by Shubhankar Sharma who won in Kochi in 2014 at the age of 17 years, 8 months.
The six-foot tall grade 12 student, Kochhar, set another record by becoming the first Indian amateur to win an event on the PGTI. Bangladesh’s Md Zamal Hossain Mollah is the only other player to have won on the PGTI as an amateur. He achieved the feat at the City Bank – Dhaka Bank Bangladesh Open 2009 played at the Kurmitola Golf Club in Dhaka.
Om Prakash Chouhan of Mhow, Madhya Pradesh, claimed the runners-up spot at Tolly at 11-under-199 after his final round of six-under-64. Chouhan, however, took home the cheque of Rs. 4,50,000 for the best performance by a professional.
The par 4 fifth hole played as the hardest hole with the field averaging 4.29 shots.
Karandeep Kochhar, who played 28 holes on Friday due to the weather interruption on day two, rounded off a fairytale week thanks to his all-round performance. Interestingly, the teenager, who is currently India’s top junior golfer, had won a junior event at the same venue the previous week.
Earlier in the day, Kochhar made one birdie in his remaining 10 holes of round two to close the penultimate round with a two-under-68. His two-round total read six-under-134 at that stage and placed him in tied-third, four shots behind the second round leader Digvijay Singh.
The bespectacled Karandeep took Tollygunge Club by storm in round three as he rallied for six birdies versus a lone bogey during the first 12 holes. He sank two 15-feet birdie putts and got it close to inside seven feet on three separate occasions to set up birdies. A great par-save on the 13th kept his momentum going.
Kochhar, a winner of two junior titles this year, powered ahead with some blistering drives on the 14th, 15th and 16th which set him up for birdies. He converted his third 15-footer of the day on the 16th. It was a mere formality from there on as Karandeep led by three strokes with two holes to play. He displayed a cool head to seal it with two pars at the end.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to win despite such a strong field of professionals here this week. This does wonders for my confidence and self-belief. It’s set me thinking about the right time to turn professional. I have to discuss it with my family back home whether it should be this year or next year,” said an excited Karandeep, whose only previous appearance in a professional event was at the PGTI’s Kolkata Classic earlier this year, where he missed the cut.
He added, “The win in the junior event at Tollygunge last week gave me a good feel of the conditions here and helped me raise my game this week. However, I would not have played this event had it not been for my friend and fellow golfer Rohan Kathuria. Rohan almost forced me to enter this event after my win last week. Shubhankar Sharma, who recently moved to Panchkula, also gave me the confidence to play in professional events when I spoke to him back in Chandigarh.
“My iron-play and wedge-play were outstanding in all three rounds. I also made some long putts today when it mattered the most.”
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“At the start of the day, I thought a top-5 or even a top-10 finish would be great. It never occurred to me that I would be in a position to win. I didn’t see the leaderboard till the 14th. That’s when I realised I was leading. I then drove it really well on the final stretch. There were some nervous moments on the last two holes but I didn’t lose focus,” added Karandeep, who attributes his early initiation into the game at the age of three, to his grandfather Dr. G S Kochhar.
Om Prakash Chouhan (68-67-64) climbed from tied-seventh in round two to claim the second position after his error-free third round of 64.
Gurgaon’s Digvijay Singh, the second-round leader by two shots, slipped to tied-third after a 70 in the final round. He shared the third spot with Bengaluru’s Khalin Joshi (68) at 10-under-200.
Shankar Das (67-67-69) ended the week as the highest-placed professional from Kolkata. He finished tied for the seventh position at seven-under-203.
Karandeep Kochhar(A): 66-68-62: 196
Om Prakash Chouhan: 68-67-64: 199
Khalin H Joshi: 67-65-68: 200
Digvijay Singh: 63-67-70: 200
M Dharma: 69-69-64: 202