Pariya Junhasavasdikul claims McLeod Russel title

Junhasavasdikul played his most error-prone round, a one-under 71, for a 15-under 273 but still managed to beat Rashid Khan by three strokes and clinched the Mcleod Russel Championship. He pocketed the winner’s purse of Rs. 22.5 lakh ahead of his New Year vacation.

I was never comfortable even with a six-shot lead because others were capable of catching up,” Junhasavasdikul said after winning the trophy.   -  Y.B. Sarangi

Pariya Junhasavasdikul made it a special Christmas for himself by becoming the first overseas golfer to claim the McLeod Russel Tour Championship, at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club here on Sunday.

The Thai shot a one-under 71 in the final round for a tally of 15-under, three strokes ahead of Rashid Khan, to pocket the winner’s purse of Rs. 22.5 lakh ahead of his New Year vacation.

Rashid, who was two strokes behind Junhasavasdikul overnight, had a disastrous start, with double bogeys on the first and sixth holes, and a bogey on seventh. However, he made a superb comeback to pick up five birdies, including four on the back nine.

His Rs. 15 lakh prize check took his earnings this season to Rs. 44.8 lakh from eight events, clinching him his second PGTI Order of Merit title after 2013.

Shamim Khan fired a course-record equalling nine-under with 10 birdies and climbed 13 places to share the third place on 278 with Gaganjeet Bhullar and S.S.P. Chawrasia.

Amidst the chaos, Junhasavasdikul kept his cool to ensure his second wire-to-wire triumph. At the 2013 Asian Tour Selangor Masters event too he had led the field over four rounds to win the title beating Anirban Lahiri by one stroke.

The 32-year-old, a commercial pilot license holder, had another flying start as he gained three strokes with some superb putting, including a 40-footer on the sixth. But he dropped a shot each on the eighth, 10th and 14th — where he found a bunker and then failed to putt from 20 feet. However, a birdie on the 12th ensured that he finished under.

Among the other prominent names, Jeev Milkha Singh had a forgettable 13-over and slipped 37 places to finish 50th with a total of 11-over.

Arjun Atwal was joint 36th with an aggregate of six-over while Mukesh Kumar was joint 26th with two-over. Shiv Kapur was tied-15th for two-under 286.

Aman Raj emerged as the PGTI Emerging Player of the Year.

The scores: 273: Pariya Junhasavasdikul (66, 68, 68, 71); 276: Rashid Khan (70, 64, 70, 72); 278: Shamim Khan (70, 73, 72, 63), Gaganjeet Bhullar (71, 68, 70, 69), S.S.P. Chawrasia (70, 68, 69, 71); 279: Jyoti Randhawa (70, 69, 74, 66); 280: Khalin Joshi (67, 72, 71, 70); 282: Amardip Sinh Malik (68, 70, 74, 70); 283: Abhijit Singh Chandha (74, 71, 70, 68); 284: Mithun Perera (73, 71, 72, 68), Aman Raj (74, 70, 69, 71), Shubhankar Sharma (70, 68, 70, 76).