Harendra, the cynosure

Harendra Gupta with the trophy after winning the Golconda Masters.-V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM

Harendra Gupta trailed Shamim Khan by three strokes at the end of the third round, but he fought back gallantly on the final day and pulled off a superb victory in the play-off. By V. V. Subrahmanyam.

It was a fitting finale to the inaugural edition of the Golconda Masters at the Hyderabad Golf Club course, adjoining the historic Golconda Fort. Harendra Gupta of Chandigarh edged out a gritty Shamim Khan of Delhi in an exciting play-off.

Harendra, who had scores of 67, 65, 66 and 67 in the four rounds, in fact trailed Shamim by three strokes at the end of the third round. He, however, fought back gallantly on the final day.

“The final day clearly belonged to Harendra, who scored birdies on the fifth, sixth, seventh. With some excellent chip-putts on the fifth, sixth and seventh holes — he even sank an 18-footer on the ninth — Harendra was the cynosure. In contrast, Shamim was erratic with bogeys on the 13th, 15th and 16th holes and trailed Harendra by three with two more holes to go.

However, to the dismay of his fans, Harendra faltered with a double-bogey on the 17th, and this helped Shamim reduce the gap to one shot. He then scored a birdie from 10 feet out to force a play-off.

In the play-off, the two players were in the bunker with their tee shots, but Harendra pulled off a great approach shot before finishing with a five-foot par putt.

A delighted Harendra, who had won his eighth title and fourth on the PGTI circuit, earned Rs. 6 lakh for the victory.