Golconda Masters: Sandhu retaines championship title

Ajeetesh Sandhu clinched his third pro title with an eight-feet birdie conversion on the first play-off hole (on the 18th) even as Joshi could only manage a bogey after finding the bunker with his tee shot.

Ajeetesh Sandhu of Chandigarh who won the Golconda Masters golf championship in Hyderabad seen with the trophy and winner's cheque along with the officials on Sunday.   -  Special arrangement

Ajeeteesh Sandhu retained the Golconda Masters golf championship title at the Hyderabad Golf Club here on Sunday.

It was a remarkable performance by Ajeetesh (70-67-73-63), who was placed at 17th after the penultimate round. With an impressive eight-under-63 to take his total to 11-under-273 today he earned a place in the play-off against Bengaluru’s Khalin Joshi (65-70-70-68).

Joshi, the overnight joint leader, posted a three-under-68 in the final round. Ajeetesh clinched his third pro title with an eight-feet birdie conversion on the first play-off hole (on the 18th) even as Joshi could only manage a bogey after finding the bunker with his tee shot.

He was richer by Rs. 6 lakhs winner’s purse to emerge as the PGTI Order of Merit leader. For someone who struggled on the first three holes today, the 28-year-old Ajeetesh began from the fourth where he drained a 25-footer for birdie.

From there on, he went on to add an eagle and six more birdies to match the tournament’s best single-round score achieved earlier in the week by Pune’s Sameer M. Shaikh.

Ajeetesh, who has a conditional card on the Japan Golf Tour, scored heavily on the par-5s. He eagled the eighth from 20 feet and sank birdies on the sixth, 10th and 17th to be five-under for the day on the par-5s. A magnificent tee shot set up a tap-in birdie for him on the seventh.

The Chandigarh golfer also drove the green on the 15th and rolled in a 25-footer on the 16th that contributed towards his hat-trick of birdies in the closing stages.

“I’m enjoying a terrific start to the season. This win comes after a good performance in Noida last week where I finished tied third. The HGC is turning out to be one of my favourite courses,” he remarked later.

“The eagle on the eighth lifted my confidence. It took me to four-under for the day and at that stage I had this gut feeling that I was in with a chance since I also had some good memories from last year,”he said.

Veteran Mukesh Kumar of Mhow struck a 68 in round four to clinch third place at 10-under-274. Delhi’s Shamim Khan (69) was a further shot back in fourth place.

Delhi’s Himmat Singh Rai, the overnight joint leader, slipped to tied 13th at three-under-281 after a final round of 76. Harendra Gupta (71) of Chandigarh, the 2015 champion, also took a share of 13th place.