Ajeetesh Sandhu of Chandigarh recorded his maiden professional triumph at the DLF Masters 2012 after he edged out seasoned campaigner Jyoti Randhawa in a playoff at the latter’s home course, the DLF Golf & Country Club. The two golfers finished with identical totals of six-under-282 before heading for the playoff.
Ajeetesh Sandhu (70-66-70-76) started the day as the firm favourite as he enjoyed a six-stroke lead after round three. His birdie on the third consolidated his lead. Ajeetesh then struck a lean patch from the fifth to the 16th hole and as a result squandered away his huge lead. The 24-year-old found the trees on the fifth and seventh and did not have a swing on both occasions. This resulted in double bogeys on both the holes. Another bogey on the eighth meant he made the turn at four-over for the day.
Sandhu’s birdie on the 11th was neutralized by his third double bogey of the day on the 12th. The wiry Ajeetesh, who was one of the top junior golfers in the country before turning professional, found the rough on the 12th and then produced a poor shot from the bunker.
Ajeetesh’s title hopes were all but dashed when he bogeyed the 16th. Jyoti Randhawa had a one shot lead at that point. Sandhu came roaring back thereafter with a birdie-birdie finish on the 17th and 18th to take the match to a playoff. He sank a 10-footer for birdie on the 17th and made a two-putt from the edge of the green for birdie on the 18th.
Sandhu prevailed over the experienced Randhawa with a birdie on the first playoff hole (18th). Sandhu hit a terrific second shot (4-iron) from the centre of the fairway that landed on the edge of the green of the par-five 18th. Randhawa found the green in three shots after his tee shot landed in the trees. Jyoti narrowly missed his 20-feet birdie putt while Ajeetesh two-putted for birdie to seal his maiden professional title.
Ajeetesh said, “This is a very special day for me as this is my first professional title since turning pro in 2008. I have come close on a few occasions but finally managed to cross the victory barrier today. I was a little nervous at the start of the day but I settled into my round and got over the nerves after the first few holes. The bogeys and double bogeys were more a result of some poor shots than just pressure.
“I thought I came back really well towards the end with birdies on the 17th, 18th and the playoff hole. The fantastic approach shot from 200 yards out during the playoff swung the match in my favour after Jyoti found the trees with his tee shot,” added Ajeetesh, who has now climbed from 22nd place to fifth position on the Rolex Rankings.
Jyoti Randhawa (73-69-71-69), the 2007 and 2008 DLF Masters champion, made three birdies in his final round of 69.
Om Prakash Chouhan of Mhow and Delhi’s Rashid Khan finished tied third at five-under-283 while Himmat Singh Rai of the DLF Golf & Country Club was a further shot back in fifth position.
In the team championship, the team of Abhijit Singh Chadha, Om Prakash Chouhan and amateur Mr. M D Sinha won the competition with a net score of 132.