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Lahiri takes the honours

- Anirban’s maiden title at RCGC; Rahil is runner-up
Anirban Lahiri with the trophy, at the RCGC, on Sunday. A Telegraph picture

Calcutta: Sunday’s final round of the 2013 McLeod Russel Tour Championship was heading for a humdinger at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) till the eighth. With both Anirban Lahiri and Rahil Gangjee on level terms, the game was on. There was a buzz on the greens that Rahil may upset the Anirban applecart.

Suddenly, the equation changed.

Rahil made a mess of a simple putting and had a bogey round. That affected his game and on the ninth the local favourite had another bogey. Anirban pounced on this opportunity and sank a birdie putt from almost 20 feet. From there on, Anirban did not have to look back. On the 12th, he landed his approach shot within two feet for a tap-in birdie whereas Rahil was floundering with another bogey.

The Bangalore-based pro went on to take a five-stroke lead till the 17th, but a bogey on the last narrowed it to four strokes. Anirban, though, did not have any issues with that and as his tap-in hit the pin, he smiled and lobbed the ball into the crowd, who were following him throughout the sunny afternoon. For the record, this was Anirban’s first win at the Royal and he took home the winner’s purse of Rs 21,39,750.

The three-under 69 score in the final round of the year-ending event of the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) helped him to end the week with a total of 17-under 271. Rahil (70, 68, 68, 69) finished runner-up at 13-under 275. There was lot of support for Rahil at the RCGC, but sadly he could not live up to the expectations.

Rahil had an eventful front-nine where he made five birdies and three bogeys. He had a relatively quieter back-nine with two birdies and a bogey. Rahil made some long putts on the first, second and fifth. However, those bogeys on the eighth, ninth and 12th pulled him back.

“I am not disheartened. The crowd backed me like anything and I enjoyed playing. Yeah, I made some mistakes, but these things happen. The best thing is to think positive. I am not mulling over what it would have been. Instead, I am looking forward to my next Asian Tour event in Thailand.”

The morning, though, didn’t show the day for Anirban. He had a miserable start with a double bogey on the second. His approach shot went over the greens and then the putt reflected off a water sprinkler. That probably woke him up from the slumber. From the third onward, Anirban got his focus back and sank birdies on the fourth, fifth, ninth, 12th, 16th and 17th to wrap up his 13th professional title, also his first at the RCGC, in style.

“I was under tremendous pressure in the morning as both Rahil and Chiragh (Kumar) were on fire. And the double bogey on the second shook me up. I played solid golf from the third till 17th, and here I am speaking to you guys… Overall it’s a great week for me,” Anirban said, later.

Anirban said he had thought a 13-under would be enough for the title. “I really thought a 13-under would be good enough for the title. But I was happy to hit 17-under. It’s not my best score, but very satisfying. I got a 24-under which is a PGTI record, and 20-under this year at the Eagleburg Open,” Anirban revealed.

Abhinav Lohan of Faridabad and Delhi’s Chiragh Kumar finished tied third at 10-under-278. Jyoti Randhawa was a further shot behind in fifth place.

Defending champion SSP Chowrasia finished in 17th place with a total score of two-under-286.

Rajeev Takru, director McLeod Russel and Akhil Khaitan (son of Aditya Khaitan, managing director, McLeod Russel) gave away the trophy and the winner’s cheque. Also present during the prize distribution ceremony were Padamjit Sandhu, director, PGTI, and Aveek Sarkar, the RCGC Captain.