Chawrasia wins maiden Indian Open by two shots

S. S. P. Chawrasia – runner up in 1999 to Arjun Atwal, to Jyoti Randhawa in 2006, to Bangladesh’s Siddikur Rahman in 2013 and to Lahiri last year – regained his European Tour card till the end of 2018 and jumped to the 20th spot on the Race to Dubai money-list.

S. S. P. Chawrasia with the Indian Open golf trophy.   -  Special Arrangement

It took a timely 124-yard approach shot by S. S. P. Chawrasia on the par-5 final hole to virtually end all talks of a possible playoff for the $1.66 million Hero Indian Open title on Sunday.

Once the ball stopped less than four feet from the ‘pin’ and gave Chawrasia a birdie-opportunity for 15-under, it put him beyond the reach of his nearest rivals – Korea’s Jeunghun Wang and defending champion Anirban Lahiri.

By this time, Wang had finished at 13-under and Lahiri could at best reach 14-under and wait for Chawrasia to mess up his birdie-putt. As it turned out, Lahiri missed his birdie-putt and Chawrasia signed off with a birdie win by two strokes.

For the record, Chawrasia crossed the line with a one-under 71 for a winning tally of 15-under 273, worth $276,660. Lahiri and Wang shared the second spot at 13-under for paycheques of $144,178 each. Watch: >Highlights: Chawrasia's moment of glory

It was truly astonishing it took Chawrasia 17 years to realise his dream of winning the Indian Open after finishing second best for the first time in 1999. Chawrasia – runner up in 1999 to Arjun Atwal, to Jyoti Randhawa in 2006, to Bangladesh’s Siddikur Rahman in 2013 and to Lahiri last year – regained his European Tour card till the end of 2018 and jumped to the 20th spot on the Race to Dubai money-list.

For the better part of the day, it was a three-way contest for the title but Chawrasia never trailed. Lahiri, who birdied the first three holes and caught up with Chawrasia briefly at 13-under on the sixth hole where the leader dropped a shot, often struggled with his length of his putts.

Chawarsia, wary of Lahiri’s ability to snatch the title like he did last year, said, “I thought Lahiri could birdie the final hole so I was concentrating on getting a birdie-opportunity."

The soft-spoken champion who has now brightened the prospects of joining Lahiri in the Olympics and World Cup, gave credit to Jeev Milkha Singh for his triumph. "Jeev’s words last evening helped me stay focused on the job. He asked me to stay calm even when someone was closing in with a series of birdies."

“He asked me not to get needlessly aggressive. I didn’t attack the ‘pins’ as often as I do. I remember doing it only three or four times with mixed success.”

Scores

S. S. P. Chawrasia (67, 67, 68, 71) 273; Jeunghun Wang (Kor) (67, 74, 66, 68), Anirban Lahiri (68, 71, 67, 69) 275.

Other Indians: Rashid Khan (69, 68, 69, 72) 278; Shiv Kapur (72, 67, 70, 70) 279; Arjun Atwal (70, 71, 67, 73) 281; Jeev Milkha Singh (72, 71, 71, 68), Ajeetesh Sandhu (76, 66, 70, 70) 282; Shamim Khan (71, 70, 72, 70), Sanjay Kumar (67, 72, 72, 72) 283; Mukesh Kumar (73, 68, 72, 71) 284; Shubhankar Sharma (71, 72, 74, 68), Chiragh Kumar (73, 70, 73, 69), Vikrant Chopra (69, 73, 73, 70) 285; Honey Baisoya (68, 72, 72, 74) 286; Amardip Malik (73, 70, 72, 72) 287; M. Dharma (70, 74, 72, 72) 288; Shankar Das (70, 72, 72, 75) 289; Arjun Prasad (A) (71, 70, 76, 77) 294; Udayan Mane (72, 70, 79, 75) 296; Om Prakash Chouhan (71, 73, 76, 78) 298.