Anirban Lahiri and Karandeep Kochhar to continue playoff duel on Monday after being tied on first two extra holes
Kochhar makes grand comeback, Lahiri stays the course before fading light pushes playoff into extra day
The Rs. 1.5 crore Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational Presented by TAKE Sports, in its third edition this year, continues to delight golf fans with pulsating finishes year after year at the revered Chandigarh Golf Club.
This year’s tournament has again produced a playoff like the two previous editions and to add to the drama the duel between Indian star and former Asia No. 1 Anirban Lahiri (70-68-70-69) and local favourite Karandeep Kochhar (76-66-67-68) has been extended into Monday due to fading light. The third extra hole of the playoff resumes at 9 am on Monday, December 7.
The protagonists Kochhar and Lahiri ended the regulation 72 holes with matching totals of 11-under-277 after Kochhar, who began the week with a disappointing 76, made a grand comeback with his determined last round of 68 while Lahiri stayed the course with a resilient 69.
At the end of regulation play, Karandeep incurred a one-stroke penalty for accidentally causing the ball to move on the 17th hole. The Chandigarh lad, playing on his home course, thus joined seven-time international winner Lahiri in a playoff to decide the winner.
In regulation play, Karandeep, the winner of PGTI’s last event at the same venue in November, was on the button with his short game as he collected birdies with 10 to 20 feet conversions on the fourth, eighth and 11th. Kochhar also chipped-in for birdie on the 15th and landed his bunker shots within six and four feet for birdies on the second and 16th. On the 17th, his ball landed in the right rough before he accidentally caused it to move thus resulting in a double-bogey there.
Anirban on the other hand was not having it easy on the front-nine as he dropped two bogeys in exchange for a birdie. But Lahiri’s round was back on track with tap-in birdies on the 13th and 16th and a 15-feet birdie conversion on the 15th. The two-time winner on the European Tour then picked up another birdie on the 17th thanks to a good drive.
Lahiri, who started the day in tied third, two off the lead, then sank a tricky 12-footer to birdie the first playoff hole even as Kochhar fired a magnificent approach for a tap-in birdie there.
Karandeep, who began the day in sixth place and three off the lead, found the bunker with his drive on the second playoff hole but got himself out of trouble with a fabulous third shot that left him a one-footer for par. Anirban missed his six-footer for birdie on this occasion.
With both players in a deadlock and light fading, it was decided to extend the match by another day into Monday, a first in PGTI history.
Karandeep, currently ranked second on the PGTI merit list, said, “My chipping, putting and wedge play was top-class today. It’s great to fight my way back into the tournament after a poor start in round one. I feel I got better with each day. I was obviously disappointed about the one-shot penalty I had to incur. But I’ve put it behind me and am looking forward to finishing it well tomorrow.”
The experienced Anirban said, “I just had no momentum going on the front-nine today. I was trying to be patient and finally hit my stride from the 13th but was still unable to apply pressure on Karandeep. I’m happy to see how Karandeep has recovered so well after his slow start in the tournament. I’m now looking forward to the contest with him tomorrow.”
Incidentally Anirban and Karandeep also played the first two rounds together being drawn in the same three-ball.
Gurugram’s Manu Gandas produced the day’s best score of 66 to take joint third place with Patna’s Aman Raj (70) at 10-under-278.
Chandigarh’s Akshay Sharma, the leader in the second and third rounds, ended the week in tied fifth at eight-under-280 after his last round of 74. Gurugram’s Veer Ahlawat (72) also claimed tied fifth.
Among the prominent names, SSP Chawrasia (69) and PGTI Order of Merit leader Udayan Mane (74) were both tied 13th at four-under-284, Jyoti Randhawa (71) was tied 29th at two-over-290 and Gaganjeet Bhullar (73) was tied 33rd at three-over-291.
Formed in 2006, Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) is the recognised official body of professional golf in India. PGTI's objective is to promote professional golf in the country, as well as to give players an opportunity to be involved in the decision making on all aspects of the game. Headed by Mr. Gautam Thapar (President), PGTI's governing body comprises leading Indian golf professionals. PGTI currently has over 300 members.
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