Sri Lanka’s N. Thangaraja had a dream final round of six-under 66, the day’s best score, to outplay all his rivals and emerge champion in the Rs 1 crore Vizag Open golf championship at the East Point Golf Club here on Saturday.
For the 42-year-old Thangaraja (71-73-70-66, who was overnight tied ninth and trailing the lead by a massive seven shots, the five-year long wait for a title has finally ended.
It was a sensational and error-free last round to triumph by one stroke at a total of eight-under 280 by the Sri Lankan which separated him from the rest of the contenders.
Chandigarh’s Akshay Sharma (67-68-73-73) finished runner-up at seven-under 281 as a result of his fourth round of 73.
The quartet of Samarth Dwivedi (68), Om Prakash Chouhan (69), Saarthak Chhibber (70) and Harendra Gupta (69), took tied-third place at six-under 282.
Thanga, as he is popularly known, bagged the winning cheque worth Rs. 15 lakhs to take a giant stride from 24th to sixth position in the TATA Steel PGTI Rankings and become the 11th winner on the PGTI this season in as many events.
Thangaraja, playing three groups ahead of the leader group, made an early charge with long birdie conversions on the second and fourth holes and a great approach to set up a tap-in birdie on the fifth. He added another birdie on the par-5 seventh after finding the green in two shots.
After making the turn at four-under for the day, Thanga made further inroads on the back-nine. His tee shot on the par-3 11th lipped out of the hole but handed him a birdie and an accurate approach on the 15th left him a three-footer for his sixth and last birdie of the day.
It was also his overall sixth professional win (with two wins coming on the Sri Lankan Tour). The 42-year-old ever-smiling Thanga will now be heading to Hangzhou, China, to represent his country at the Asian Games.
“I was just focusing on my own game today. I was in tremendous hitting form and landed the ball close to the hole on many occasions. Despite the five lipped-out putts, I had a decent day with the putter. I thought a score of seven to eight under could win me the title, so that was foremost on my mind after I had a great front-nine,” Thanga said even while thanking his friend and fellow professional C. Muniyappa for being his club-fitter.
Visakhapatnam’s Rahman Mehboob Shorif ended the week in tied 49th place at 12-over 300.
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