Anirban Lahiri is hero at Indian Open golf
New Delhi, Feb 22 (IANS)
Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri won his second title in three weeks after defeating countryman S.S.P. Chawrasia on the first play-off hole at the $1.5 million Indian Open here Sunday. The 27-year-old, who was seven shots off the pace at the start of the day, fired a two-under-par 69 as overnight leader Chawrasia struggled in the blustery conditions to return with a disappointing 76 at the challenging Delhi Golf Club (DGC).
Both players finished on seven-under-par 277 in regulation play and returned to the 18th hole where Lahiri sealed the win with a birdie from inside 10-feet. Chawrasia's title hopes faded when his tee shot landed under thick branches.
The victory was Lahiri's seventh Asian Tour title and second European Tour win. He won the Malaysian Open, which was also sanctioned by the Asian and European Tour, two weeks ago.
Lahiri, who extends his lead on the Asian Tour Order of Merit and is now ranked second on the Race to Dubai, was delighted to fulfil his childhood dream by winning his National Open.
"The new Indian Open winner? That has a nice ring to it. I'm shocked. I really didn't think that I will be in this position considering the way S.S.P. and Siddikur have been playing. I thought all of us were playing for third," said Lahiri, who will likely move just outside 30th in the Official World Golf Rankings.
"This has been a childhood dream so it is very special to keep the Indian Open trophy at home. Every Indian puts winning the Indian Open on their bucket list. I couldn't have asked for a better day," added Lahiri, who is the first local to win the Indian Open since C. Muniyappa's victory in 2009.
He took advantage of Chawrasia's stuttering form when he turned in 34 before trading one birdie against one bogey on the back nine. But it was a magical chip-in par on the 17th hole which kept him in the title race.
"That chip in was crucial. I didn't want to come down 18, needing to eagle it. Even when I played 18 in regulation play, I thought I needed to birdie it. That chip-in was easily the shot of the day. It was magical when it went in," said Lahiri.
Chawrasia, a three-time Asian Tour winner, was gracious in defeat despite finishing second for the fourth time in his National Open. He was runner-up in 1999, 2006 and 2013.
"It's been a great week and I played well for three days and had some bad shots in the final round but it's ok. The problem today was the wind. It was gusting a lot and made it very difficult," he explained.
"I am proud of myself for hanging in there to make the play-off and there is always a next time. Anirban is a great friend and he played well to win the play-off. I am playing well and hopefully it continues like this."
Sri Lanka's Mithun Perera enjoyed his best result in 2015 when he posted a 69 to share third place alongside Thailand's Prayad Marksaeng (71), Marcus Fraser (72) of Australia and Joakim Lagergren (69) of Sweden.
Hero MotoCorp is the title sponsor of the event.
277 - Anirban Lahiri (IND) 73-65-70-69, S.S.P. Chawrasia (IND) 65-67-69-76.
278 - Joakim Lagergren (SWE) 65-71-73-69, Mithun Perera (SRI) 67-72-70-69, Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 68-70-69-71, Marcus Fraser (AUS) 69-70-67-72.
279 - Romain Wattel (FRA) 70-74-67-68, Richard McEvoy (ENG) 70-67-72-70, Siddikur Rahman (BAN) 65-68-70-76.
280 - Paul Peterson (USA) 69-68-71-72.
281 - Daniel Chopra (SWE) 70-72-65-74.
282 - Chapchai Nirat (THA) 65-71-75-71, Pariya Junhasavasdikul (THA) 73-70-68-71, Adrian Otaegui (ESP) 70-70-70-72, Ben Evans (ENG) 72-70-68-72, Adilson da Silva (BRA) 71-70-68-73.
283 - Thanyakon Khrongpha (THA) 68-74-73-68, Shubhankar Sharma (IND) 69-72-73-69, Lionel Weber (FRA) 68-74-72-69, John Parry (ENG) 70-74-69-70, John Hahn (USA) 70-71-71-71, Jyoti Randhawa (IND) 74-69-69-71, Arnond Vongvanij (THA) 72-72-68-71.