Karandeep Kochar. Pic: PGTI
Ahmedabad, February 25: Karandeep Kochhar, who narrowly missed getting into the field for this week’s Asian Tour event in Thailand, made the most of playing at home on the Indian Tata Steel PGTI Tour by winning the Gujarat Open Golf Championship 2022.
Chandigarh-based Karandeep (64-75-69-70), who was overnight tied fourth and two off the lead, came from behind with a steady two-under 70 on day four to sign off with a 10-under 278 total and wrap up his fourth title at the Rs. 40 lakh event at the Kalhaar Blues & Greens Golf Club.
Arjun Prasad (73-65-70-71), who like his good friend Kochhar was also overnight tied fourth, came within striking range of his maiden title before narrowly missing out. The Delhi golfer totalled nine-under 279 following a final round of 71 to secure his second runner-up finish on the PGTI.
Ranjit Singh of Chandigarh, the joint overnight leader, submitted a card of 74 to claim third place at eight-under 280.
Bengaluru’s M Dharma and Kapil Kumar of Delhi, the other two joint leaders after round three, shot scores of 75 to end the week in tied fourth place at seven-under 281.
Twenty-two-year-old Kochhar, who secured second place on the PGTI Order of Merit last year courtesy his two wins, made a slow start with two birdies and two bogeys on the front-nine as his approach shot on the eighth was the highlight having landed within six feet to set up a birdie.
The six-feet tall Karandeep kept himself in contention with birdies from tough spots on the 12th and 14th, both par-5s. The 15th was probably the turning point for Kochhar as he again got out of trouble with a chip-in for birdie even as his nearest rival and playing partner Arjun Prasad, fresh from a run of four birdies between the 10th and 14th, missed a 12-footer for birdie.
Twenty-three-year-old Arjun, who has grown up playing alongside Karandeep before both players turned professional in the same season in 2017, missed a short three-feet putt for par on the 18th that could’ve taken the match into a playoff. Kochhar also dropped a bogey on the closing hole but held on to his one-shot advantage to emerge winner.
Kochhar said, “Nothing can be better than starting a season with a win. Winning here at Kalhaar proves to me that my hitting is right up there since this course always requires good ball-striking. I put in a lot of work with my coach before the season when he asked me to trust my swing. All that work seems to be paying off now.
“After a slow start to the day I knew I was still in it as there were a couple of par-5s on the back-nine to capitalize on. I managed to score on those par-5s and added another birdie with a chip-in on the 15th that further lifted my confidence.
“On the last hole, I was mentally prepared for a playoff after dropping a bogey but got a little lucky when Arjun too missed his par putt.
“Playing well in the windy conditions on the Asian Tour prior to this week was immensely helpful in preparing me for this event as Kalhaar too offers similar conditions.”
Ranjit Singh, searching for his maiden title, was leading by two shots till the 12th hole. However, he dropped a quadruple-bogey (8) on the par-4 13th to slip out of contention.
Gurugram-based Kartik Sharma produced the day’s best score of 68 to finish tied 10th at two-under 286.
Among the Gujarat-based golfers, both Varun Parikh and Anshul Patel finished tied 21st at one-over 289. Shravan Desai took 41st place at 13-over 301.