Viraj Madappa wins maiden Asian Tour title

While his nearest rivals crumbled in the face of pressure and testing conditions, the 20-year-old Madappa held his nerve and collected the Take Solutions Masters trophy with a four-under 67 final round on Sunday.

Viraj Madappa became the youngest Indian to win on the Asian Tour, besting the earlier record held by Gaganjeet Bhullar.   -  Sudhakara Jain

Despite turning professional barely two seasons ago, Viraj Madappa walked the KGA course with the confidence of a past master.

While his nearest rivals crumbled in the face of pressure and testing conditions, the 20-year-old Madappa held his nerve and collected the Take Solutions Masters trophy with a four-under 67 final round on Sunday.

Madappa earned his maiden Asian Tour title, and a cheque for $63,000.

He became the youngest Indian to win on the Asian Tour, besting the earlier record held by Gaganjeet Bhullar, who won the Indonesia Invitational when he was 21.

A victory seemed unlikely at the end of the 10th hole, when Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent returned an eagle and moved two shots clear of the field.

Madappa, however, retained a positive outlook and came within one stroke of Vincent by the 15th hole.

On the 16th, a nervous Vincent three-putted for a bogey, while Madappa made a birdie to take the sole lead. A terrible approach shot on the 17th cost Vincent another bogey and the title.

For Madappa, his decision to move to Bengaluru to train with renowned coach Tarun Sardesai had paid off.

“I moved to Tarun’s academy here from Kolkata in 2016. It was a big decision, which involved a lot of sacrifices. Tarun and I had a lot of work to do on my game,” Madappa said.

A large group of supporters cheered the champion's every move.

“The energy in the crowd was fantastic. A lot of kids from our Tarun Sardesai Golf Academy watched me play. They were so loud and supportive. It made a huge difference," Madappa said.

Also part of the crowd was his mother, Vidya Madappa, who after each hole, gracefully accepted well wishes and encouraging messages from enthusiastic spectators.

With a title in the bag, Madappa has secured his Asian Tour card until next year.

“When I was an amateur in late 2015, it was a difficult time for me. My scoring average was around 75-76, and I was really questioning my game. It has been an incredible journey,” Madappa said.

Vincent finished two strokes behind the winner in tied-second, alongside the Thailand duo of Danthai Boonma and Y. Suradit, and overnight leader Miguel Carballo.

Bengaluru lad and KGA’s very own Khalin Joshi, who started the day in tied-second, only managed an even-par to take tied-third.

The scores (top-nine)

268: Viraj Madappa  (Ind) (70, 65, 66, 67); 270: Danthai Boonma (Tha) (66, 61, 73, 70), Scott Vincent (Zim) (66, 71, 65, 68), Y. Suradit (Tha) (66, 69, 69, 66), Miguel Carballo (Arg) (66, 66, 67, 71); 272: Khalin Joshi (Ind) (67, 69, 64, 72), Honey Baisoya (Ind) (70, 66, 66, 70), S.S.P. Chawrasia (Ind) (69, 65, 68, 70); 273: S. Chikkarangappa (Ind) (69, 64, 68, 72)