Randhawa does it again

Jyoti Randhawa.-SANDEEP SAXENA

Jyoti Randhawa, who set a new course record at the Jaypee Greens Golf Resorts, defeated the in-form Jeev Milkha Singh to win the BILT Open for the second time. Y. B. Sarangi reports.

Jyoti Randhawa’s sensational eight-under on the fourth and final round helped him win the BILT Open 2008, the season-ending Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) event.

This win should be a morale-booster for Randhawa who had otherwise seen quite a bit of ups and downs in 2008. Randhawa, who set a new course record at the Jaypee Greens Golf Resorts, defeated the in-form Jeev Milkha Singh, the Asian Order of Merit winner.

“Jeev is somewhere in the top 40 in the world and beating him gives a lot of confidence. I thank him for being a great adversary,” said Randhawa, who pipped his more famous rival on the final hole to win by just one stroke.

The tournament, played under foggy conditions, had a fitting final round. The leader of the first three rounds, rookie Anirban Lahiri, slipped a bit and Randhawa climbed to the top dramatically with his birdies.

He struggled with his tee shot on the 18th hole but recovered well to have a superb par and maintain his slender lead.

Jeev was slow and steady but needed a birdie off the last hole to force a tie with Randhawa, and thereby enforce a play-off.

But the winner of four international titles in 2008, Jeev messed up his seven-foot birdie putt and let go the chance to win his first PGTI title. “Somebody snapped and I went back. But that did not affect me,” he explained though.

But the 37-year-old was happy with his overall performance in the event. “I played rock solid. I had a number in mind but I fell short of it,” said Jeev.

This was Randhawa’s second BILT Open crown. He had earlier won it in 2006. After collecting the winner’s cheque of Rs. 12,93,200, the 36-year-old Randhawa said, “In the last two days everything fell into place. I putted like a demon and the hole was like a bucket.”

The two top pros of the country are happy with the performances of the younger lot.

“The way Lahiri played and gave us challenge was admirable. He has a bright future. So also other youngsters like Gaganjeet Bhullar, Shiv Kapur… who are doing so well. We did not perform like them when we were at their age. It’s a great sign for Indian golf,” said Randhawa.

“The youngsters are doing really well which is a good thing for India,” said Jeev, who congratulated Lahiri for finishing a creditable tied-second.

Mukesh Kumar, who finished tied 18th, maintained his lead to win the PGTI Order of Merit with a total earning of Rs. 34,31,992.