When it mattered, Viraj Madappa held his nerve and holed the birdie-putt to carve out a memorable one-stroke victory over the fellow overnight leader and practice-partner Khalin Joshi in the Rs. 70-lakh Tata Steel PGTI MP Cup golf tournament at the Delhi Golf Club course here on Friday.
The thrilling win was worth Rs. 11,31,550 for Madappa, who moved to third place on the Order of Merit, behind leader Karandeep Kochar and S. Chikkarangappa.
Khalin, who started the day with an ‘eagle’ and led for the better part of the final round, received Rs. 7,81,550.
Rashid Khan, playing a group ahead of the final group, shared the lead with Khalin at 14-under after the latter’s bogey on the 14th hole. Soon thereafter, Rashid dropped his first stroke of the day on the 15th followed by a double-bogey on the final hole and eventually took the third place that fetched him Rs. 4,38,550.
For the second successive round, it was Madappa who stole Khalin’s thunder. Khalin broke away from the pack with an ‘eagle-3’ on the 515-yard par-5 opening hole and found pars on the rest of the holes on the front nine, but he was wary of Rashid’s birdie blitz. All this while, Madappa had two bogeys and two birdies on the first nine.
The drama unfold on the back nine leaders Khalin (-15), and Madappa (-13) birdied the 10th hole. Then came Khalin’s first bogey, on the 13th and Madappa’s par, closed the gap between them.
The turning point proved to the par-5 14th hole where the lead changed hands as Madappa’s birdie coincided with Khalin’s second successive bogey. Both hit the bushes, but Madappa was lucky to get a free drop since his stance was on the cart path. At the same time, a group ahead, Rashid dropped a shot to slip back.
On the last two holes, Madappa and Khalin found a bogey and a birdie that meant the title was decided without a playoff. All credit to Madappa for playing aggressively on the final hole for a birdie after Khalin was poised to join him in the lead and force a playoff.
Madappa chose not to lay up, and landed 50 yards from the hole with his approach shot and went on match Khalin’s birdie to emerge victorious.
“I was confident today but yet stressed out from the very start as I haven’t been in the leader group in a few years. Since I’ve not been in this position for some time, it almost felt like a new experience. I played decent golf today but got lucky when Khalin, who was playing well, gave me a chance with his dropped shots on the 13th and 14th. The two-shot swing in my favour on the 14th proved to be crucial. I feel Khalin and me were both just a little scrappy today and not at our best,” said Madappa, as he reflected on the final day.
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