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Gangjee wins in a canter
- Anirban Lahiri, Ashok Kumar finish joint second; SSP tied fourth

Calcutta: The long wait finally came to an end. Gritty performances were few and far in between. But the show he put in at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club on Saturday was simply scintillating. A five-stroke victory brought home the first trophy in the form of the PGTI Players Championship for the city’s very own Rahil Gangjee after a long gap of over four years.

The Calcutta-based golfer grew in confidence with every stroke he played and was in complete control from the start. Harendra Gupta and Arjun Singh, overnight joint-second, were no match for Gangjee and it was almost a one-man show from the time the leading group teed off.

A final round of four-under 65, incidentally also the best score of the day, almost wiped off all competition, if any, on Saturday. Gangjee’s tournament total of nine-under 234 helped him record his first professional victory since the Asian Tour’s Volkswagen Masters — China 2004. Secunderabad’s Anirban Lahiri and 2006-07 PGTI Order of Merit winner Ashok Kumar finished joint second with an overall score of four under 239. S.S.P. Chowrasia and Delhi-based Himmat Singh Rai were a further stroke behind at tied fourth place.

The par for the course continued to be 69 on Saturday. Play started late by an hour and a half in the fourth round, due to rain. Gangjee’s round featured birdies on the second, fourth, eighth, 13th and 14th hole. He had a single bogey in the day on the 7th hole.

The golfer, who started the day on five-under with a single-stroke lead, was right on the money from the second hole of the day. He made a brilliant putt to take a two-stroke lead. But the best moment in the day came for him in the third hole.

Gangjee looked set for a bogey in the third but saved it with a sizzling putt from about 20 yards. His clenched fists clearly showed his elation after the shot.

“When I made the putt in the third, I really became confident. It was the turning point for me… I became very determined. That shot really egged me on,” he said in the post-match news conference.

From that moment on, Gangjee was no match for his opponents. He went on increasing the gap with the other golfers and ended with a five-stroke lead. Lahiri chased him till the 12th hole with a deficit of one-stroke but couldn’t sustain the pressure after that.

“I knew nothing about Lahiri chasing me till the 17th hole. It was then that a friend told me that the gap had increased to five strokes from one,” Gangjee said.

“I am a little disappointed to have finished second but at the same time am pleased about the fact that this is my best finish on the PGTI. I have had a slump over the past few months but this performance could be the turning point for me,” said the 20-year-old Lahiri.

Calcutta’s Yusuf Ali (35, 72, 66, 68) was sixth at two-under 241 while Arjun Singh (37, 68, 65, 73) finished seventh at even par 243.

Digvijay Singh (36, 68, 73, 67) finished tied eighth at one over 244 along with Dayal Singh, Manav Jaini, Uttam Singh Mundy and Chiragh Kumar.

Calcutta’s Akshay Butta (37, 72, 71, 73) took home the amateur’s trophy, as his total of 10-over 253 was the best amateur score. His final position was tied 38th.

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