Ajeetesh Sandhu finishes tied 23rd in New Zealand Open

Indian golfer Ajeetesh Sandhu compiled a superb six-under 66 on the final day to finish tied-23rd at the 100th New Zealand Open on Sunday.

Ajeetesh Sandhu compiled a superb six-under 66 on the final day. (File photo)   -  AFP

Indian golfer Ajeetesh Sandhu compiled a superb six-under 66 on the final day to finish tied-23rd at the 100th New Zealand Open on Sunday.

Australian Zach Murray claimed his first title since turning professional as he managed to hold on to the lead despite taking a bogey on the final hole. He shot 68 to get to a total of 21-under 266. He won by two shots over Ashley Hall (65) and Joshy Geary (69).

Shiv Kapur, who started the day at tied-13th, slipped on the front nine as he turned in two over with three bogeys against one birdie. A bogey on 10th meant he was three-over and way down and he stayed that till the 14th tee. Then he birdied 14th, 15th and 17th to salvage the week and end with an even par 72 and Tied-33rd.

The third Indian in the fray, S Chikkarangappa (70) finished Tied-29th.

Murray, a 21-year-old from Victoria, had his biggest test on the 18th where he hit a wild tee shot and his second shot flew well over the green, before he made an up and down for bogey to win by two strokes.

Murray previously won the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia’s WA Open as an amateur. He also featured in the winning pro-am team.

Starting the final round with a one-stroke lead over Geary, Murray had fallen back off the pack early on the back-9 before an eagle and two birdies from the 13th to 15th holes propelled him towards a winning finish.

Murray is believed to be the first wire-to-wire winner in the New Zealand Open since Sir Bob Charles in 1954.

After the win, Murray earns full status on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia and the Asian Tour until the end of the 2021 season.

Two eagles on the back-9 saw Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond shoot up the leaderboard with an 8-under 64, finishing 18-under the card for an outright 4th place in the 23-year-old’s first appearance in Queenstown.