Over the years, the profile of golf in the country has gained immensely as Indians win dollar-events hosted at home.
On Sunday, Khalin Joshi’s sensational rally to win the $400,000 Panasonic Open India was an extension of the glorious sequence that began at the Delhi Golf Club course in the 1991 Indian Open. The 26-year-old Joshi, who was not born when Ali Sher’s triumph brought the much-needed self-belief in Indian professionals, continued the legacy that home fans are getting increasingly used to.
For 45 holes, Joshi was far from being a title-aspirant. On Saturday, things took a turn for him with a flawless 32 in the third round. Bubbling with confidence, he repeated the tally on the inward-nine for an eight-under 64 and a surprise share of the lead with Siddikur Rahman. On the final day, Joshi bogeyed twice on the first three holes to slip down the order. But it was his six birdies between the eighth and 18th holes that tilted the scales decisively in his favour.
Khalin Joshi clinches Panasonic Open title
“I think I played really well…Kept my nerves and played really solid coming in. The last four holes were key for me. It’s a huge monkey of my back,” said Joshi.
Astonishingly, on the last five holes over the weekend, Joshi sank seven birdies. Equally intriguing was the fact that the only time he took lead following the 18th-hole birdie – his third on successive days – it decided the title.
“Yes, you do carry some confidence on the holes where you have done well on the previous day. But I try to focus only on what I have to do and not what I did in the past (on the same hole),” he said.
Touching upon his aggressive approach all week, Joshi said, “This year I played very different from the previous years. This time, I went for more distance. You know, it was just believing in myself and playing aggressively. That was the key for me, this week.”
Reflecting on the importance of his first international title, Joshi said, “For sure, the monkey is off my back. All my close friends have won while I’ve been close a few times. I told Rahil (Gangjee) at the start of the week that I am leaving Bengaluru, I hope I can be the Indian Panasonic Open champion. And here I am, standing with the trophy.”
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