| Mukesh Kumar with the winner’s trophy at the Tollygunge Club Friday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta: Mukesh Kumar staved off a final round four-birdie challenge from Digvijay Singh to win the Royal Challenge Grand Prix’ Calcutta leg Friday. Mukesh won with a total of 264, 16 under-par.
Digvijay’s final round card of 65, pushed him to second spot, while Amritinder Singh finished third over the Tollygunge Club golf course.
The total prize purse of this meet, the second leg of the Grand Prix, was Rs 8 lakh. This is also a sanctioned meet of the Hero Honda Indian Professional Golf Tour, the second such this year in eastern India.
“I am happy with my win, but happier with my scores. It goes to show how good one’s scores need to be to win on the tour,” said Mukesh.
Mukesh parred the first five holes and was cruising, before his tee shot on the sixth landed in the greenside bunker. He failed to putt for par and his total bulged to 13 under. That wasn’t champion material, decided Mukesh, and promptly birdied the next, the par-five tenth and the 1t6th.
That pushed Mukesh to 16-under, a comfortable three-stroke lead for win over Digvijay.
Digvijay has been doing this final round charge often now — he did the same at the Forest Hills Open in Chandigarh to jump up to second place. And he was focussed Friday.
Riding pars on the first three, he was energised enough to step on the gas and birdied the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth. That was when he was tied at 13-under with Mukesh after eight holes.
“I hit the shot of the day on the eighth — to just three feet — and the pin is cut top right,” said Digvijay. He birdied the tenth too, to get to 14-under but dropped his first shot of the round on the 12th. Another bogey came on the 13th, but Digvijay shrugged this off with a 14th hole birdie.
Thereafter, coming in, he parred it through, totalling 267, a 13-under aggregate. “The 12th hole has been my Waterloo on this course as I made a double bogey there in the first round and bogeyed it again today,” said Digvijay, who missed birdie putts on the last four.
“I started well after hitting a cold top from the tee on the first. However, I then hit a six-iron to eight feet and made birdie,” said the Meerut professional. “I was not too happy with my hitting, but I putted really well today and that helped me to score,” he added.
Starting the day tied for second place at ten-under-par, defending champion Rafiq Ali of Calcutta and Amritinder Singh had mixed luck. Amritinder bogeyed the first, picked up a birdie on the second, but dropped another shot on the third. He then birdied the fifth but bogeyed the sixth to get back to nine-under. Two following birdies, on the seventh and eighth holes, saw him move up to 11-under.
He then birdied the tenth to get to 12-under-par and carded pars in the last eight holes to finish third, a stroke behind Digvijay. “I missed a lot of putts coming in,” said Amritinder. “I made a loot of good putts which just burned the lip, refusing to drop and my birdies just dried out after the tenth hole.”
Rafiq dropped a stroke on the first but birdied the third to get to ten-under for the tournament, but immediately lost the advantage with a bogey on the fourth. He then picked up a birdie on the easy 10th but dropped a shot on the 13th to card a final round 71 and finish sole fourth.
Local golfer Indrajit Bhalotia carded good scores over the last two days to finish a further stroke behind. Uttam Singh Mundy finished a further stroke behind, while Shamim Khan, Ashok Kumar and Rahul Ganapathy finished seventh with totals of 276. Meanwhile, two-time Indian Open champion, Ali Sher carded the best round of the day, a six-under, 64 to finish tenth.
264 — Mukesh Kumar (66, 64, 66, 68); 267 — Digvijay Singh (68, 65, 69, 65); 268 — Amritinder Singh (67, 65, 68, 68); 271 — Rafiq Ali (65, 66, 69, 71); 273 — Indrajit Bhalotia (67, 70, 68, 68); 274 — Uttam Singh Mundy (64, 69, 70, 71); 276 — Shamim Khan (66, 74, 69, 67), Ashok Kumar (67, 70, 69, 70); Rahul Ganapathy (67, 68, 66, 75); 277 — Ali Sher (66,, 71, 76, 64); 278 — Sanjay Kumar (68, 69, 71, 70); 279 — SSP Chowrasia (71, 69, 68, 71).