| Arjun Atwal with the Malaysian Open trophy in Kuala Lumpur Sunday. (AFP)
Kuala Lumpur: India’s Arjun Atwal held off European No. 1 Retief Goosen to clinch a four-stroke victory in the rain affected Malaysian Open Sunday.
Atwal, who led from the start, carded a final round five-under-par 66 that included a superb chip-in from off the green for birdie at the last hole. It was Atwal’s fifth Asian Tour and second European Tour triumph in 12 months.
South Africa’s Goosen, the world No. 5, got within one stroke of Atwal before settling for a closing score of 68 and a share of second place with Australian Brad Kennedy at 20-under.
Britain’s Dean Robertson was fourth at 18-under with Thailand’s Thammanoon Srirot a further stroke behind.
“I am really tired after playing ten holes this morning and then 18 this afternoon,” Atwal said. “While being in the lead since the first day has been good, it does take it out of you mentally,” he added.
Atwal became the first Indian golfer to take a European Tour title last year when he won the Singapore Masters.
“It didn’t really get to me when I was on the course but right after I finished, I was drained. The win in Singapore last year was good and after that win I didn’t play so well and I started doubting myself.
“But this win kind of makes me believe a bit better in myself and told me that I am good enough to compete on the European Tour or any Tour.”
The first prize of $ 183,330 was the richest of Atwal’s eight-year pro career and lifted him to fifth on the European Tour Order of Merit — one place ahead of Goosen.
Atwal had led Goosen by two strokes after the third round earlier on Sunday after a thunderstorm on Saturday had halted play.
The pair had restarted their third round at the ninth hole with Atwal four strokes ahead. But the 29-year-old’s lead was soon reduced when he double-bogeyed the ninth.
Atwal eventually signed for a four-under-par 67 and headed straight into the final round still leading Goosen by two strokes. Both players recorded three birdies on the outward nine before Goosen edged to within one shot of Atwal when he birdied the tenth.
Goosen’s challenge then faded and he hit a poor two-iron tee shot at the 13th hole that found a water hazard right of the fairway. The resultant bogey saw Goosen again drop two strokes behind Atwal before the Indian sealed victory with birdies at the 14th and last hole.
“I putted badly and the greens really slowed up this afternoon with the growth,” Goosen said. (Reuters)