SSP Chawrasia is no longer only a king in his own backyard
Shiv Shankar Prasad Chawrasia, the man who is known for his short game prowess bagged his second title of the season and fifth win overall on the Asian Tour at the Resorts World Manilla Masters in Manilla on Sunday.
“I am very happy. This is my first win outside of India. It means a great deal for me. I am very excited. Everyone has been telling me I have won a lot of times in India and it's about time to win outside of India. I am glad I did it this week. I know every shot is crucial when you are in a play-off. I just tried to calm myself down out there,” Chawrasia told the Asian Tour website after the win.
The man from Calcutta who learnt his trade at Royal Calcutta Golf Club courtesy of his father working there as a greenkeeper, has fifteen titles to his name now, three of them coming at European Tour events.
He turned professional in 1997 after a few years of caddying and after a few close calls, Chawrasia registered his first win on home soil on the European Tour in 2008 at the Emaar-MGF Indian Masters.
Subsequently, he earned a two-year exemption on the European Tour and became only the third Indian after Jeev Milkha Singh and Arjun Atwal to become a full member of the European Tour.
“I never thought that I could win this tournament, but I don't know what I'm going to do in the future. I am sure I will play more both in Asia and Europe, but my ultimate target is to get onto the US Tour, Chawrasia said after winning.”
“It is the biggest win of my life. I can't describe my emotions. Only when I get back to Kolkata will it sink in.”
At the start of 2016, he represented Asia under the captaincy of Jeev Milkha Singh at the EurAsia Cup and battled against some of the top names in golf on the European team playing under a very capable captain in the form of Darren Clarke.
He built a stong partnership with Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand to be one of the few teams that gelled together for the Asian unit.
He took the ultimate loss in his stride and built on his first experience of representing Asia at an international event.
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In March, Chawrasia produced a tournament-winning performance at the Hero Indian Open and in the process, fulfilled his life-long dream of winning his national open.
He completed the victory by two shots over his compatriot, Anirban Lahiri and Jeunghun Wang of South Korea.
“This is very important for me because I get a full card and most probably I'm playing the Olympics and the World Cup also so it's very, very important for me,” he said.
“I was a four-time runner-up in this event and I was thinking for a long time, 'I have to win this tournament'. That's my dream and I got it, Chawrasia added.”
He in turn got back full membership of the European Tour which he had narrowly lost at the end of 2015 largely owing to a lacklustre year by his standards.
The above mentioned events in the first half of the season have culminated in his first title outside of India.
The man who has been a late-bloomer of sorts turned in a gutsy performance under pressure to survive in a two-hole thrilling playoff over Sam Chien of the United States and Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung.
The win which has been a long time coming came after Chawrasia carded a blemish free six-under -par 66 to match the clubhouse leaders, Chien and Fung at 19-under-par 269 for the tournament.
He thus entered a three-way play-off to battle for the win and the three players went back to the 18th tee for the first play-off hole. Chawrasia and rookie, Chien matched each other with birdies while Fung saw himself eliminated with a bogey.
And then there were two! Chien and Chawrasia went back to the 18th tee yet another time. Chien hit an erratic tee shot which landed straight in a hazard and Chawrasia, cool as a cucumber split the middle of the fairway with a solid drive of his own.
The American then took relief from the hazard and hit his third into the rough which effectively sealed the win for Chawrasia.
“Chawrasia played some great golf in the playoff. I was just trying to be aggressive but maybe I was a little bit too aggressive. I played well on the first extra hole but the second time I just did not away with it,” said Chien.
Chawrasia playing from a position of advantage produced a magical second on the par-5 hole to set up an egale attempt of 20 feet.
It was truly a shot only a player high on confidence and belief in his game would produce and was definitely a testament to his all-round solid game throughout the week.
Although, Chawrasia's eagle attempt came up short, he tapped in for an easy birdie which was his final shot for the week as he went on to hoist the trophy at the USD 1,000,000 tournament.
“I know every shot is crucial when you are in a play-off. So I just tried to calm myself down out there and I’m just glad I hit two brilliant second shots that got me the title,” said Chawrasia.
It was a great week all around for the Indians at the event. Shubhankar Sharma tied the course record with a sizzling ten-under-par 62 to finish one shot off the pace at 18 under par along with Chiragh Kumar and Jyoti Randhawa who also finished tied-4th.
S Chikkrangrappa (69) and Gaganjeet Bhullar (70) were tied-19th at 14-under, while Shiv Kapur (69) was 13-under in tied-22nd.