Ajeetesh Sandhu clinches Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational title

Ajeetesh, playing at his home course, made a spectacular comeback in regulation play before coming through in a marathon playoff that lasted four extra holes at the Chandigarh Golf Club.

Ajeetesh Sandhu collect the winning cheque worth Rs. 24,24,750 that catapulted him from 48th to second position in the TATA Steel PGTI Order of Merit.

Ajeetesh Sandhu collect the winning cheque worth Rs. 24,24,750 that catapulted him from 48th to second position in the TATA Steel PGTI Order of Merit.   -  Sandeep Saxena

Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu pipped Delhi’s Rashid Khan for the title in a photo-finish on the final day of the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational golf tournament on Sunday.

Ajeetesh, playing at his home course, made a spectacular comeback in regulation play before coming through in a marathon playoff that lasted four extra holes at the Chandigarh Golf Club.

It was a classical contest for the ages that saw Sandhu collect the winning cheque worth Rs. 24,24,750 that catapulted him from 48th to second position in the TATA Steel PGTI Order of Merit.

Rashid extended his lead to over Rs 34 lakhs in the PGTI’s money list despite his heart-breaking loss. Khan’s PGTI earnings for 2019 now stand at a whopping Rs. 61,21,653.

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Ajeetesh (66-69-67-66) and Rashid (71-64-67-66), the joint leaders after round three, headed for the playoff on Sunday after ending up with identical totals of 20-under-268 in regulation play.

It turned out to be the lowest winning score at the Chandigarh Golf Club, improving on Rahil Gangjee’s 13-under-275 at the PGTI Players Championship in 2013.

Karandeep Kochhar of Chandigarh took third place at 17-under-271 after a flawless 68 in round four.

Abhijit Singh Chadha, another local lad, matched the course record score of eight-under-64 to take a share of 15th place at seven-under-281. Chadha’s sizzling round featured an eagle, seven birdies and a bogey.

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Ajeetesh, who bagged his fourth title on the PGTI and fifth overall, said, “It has been a really solid week for me. I’m delighted to win on my home turf and in front of my home crowd. It’s something I’ve always dreamt of.

“The three birdies on the seventh, eight and ninth were the key to my round as they kept me in the game. The long birdie conversions on the 14th and 17th also played a part in getting me within striking distance of the title,” added Sandhu, currently ranked 15th on the Asian Tour money list, the highest among the Indians.

The PGTI record for the longest playoff was also matched on Sunday. The two previous playoffs on the PGTI that lasted four holes were played at the PGTI Players Championship at the Noida Golf Course in 2013 and at the Delhi-NCR Open also at the Noida Golf Course in 2019.

While Kolkata’s Divyanshu Bajaj finished fourth at 13-under-275, the Chandigarh duo of Aadil Bedi and Akshay Sharma took joint fifth at 12-under-276. Sri Lankan Mithun Perera was a further shot back in seventh.

Rory Hie of Indonesia, the leading foreign name in the field, finished tied eighth at 10-under-278.

Indian star Jyoti Randhawa took a share of 11th place at nine-under-279.

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