| Jyoti Randhawa after claiming the Indian Open title in New Delhi on Sunday. (AFP)
New Delhi: Defending champion Jyoti Randhawa was at his consistent best as he claimed the $500,000 Indian Open title at the Delhi Golf Course here on Sunday.
Cheered on by a large number of fans, Randhawa came up with a rock-solid performance of three-under 69 on the final day to aggregate 13-under. He emulated the feat of Australian Peter Thompson, winning the title on three occasions.
Randhawa, who now has seven Asian Tour titles to his credit, had won in 2000 and 2006. Thompson, a five-time British Open winner, won the Indian Open in 1964, 1966 and 1976.
“There is nothing like winning the national title,” said Randhawa later. “It is always special for any golfer. If you make a hattrick of it, it automatically becomes extra special. I am really happy to have achieved it.”
Chinese Taipei’s Chang Tse-peng chased hard with a superb 68 to finish second. Calcutta-lad Rahil Gangjee grabbed the third spot with the day’s best of 66, five behind the winner.
Randhawa was a delight to watch right from the start of the day. As the huge crowd followed him, he made confident progress and sunk in two birdies in the front nine. On the ninth his tee shot got into the bush, but an amazing eagle on the 16th had the stamp of true class.
It was a great shot and the crowd greeted it with wild cheers. Randhawa, who celebrated with several fist pumps, later said: “I was aiming four to five yards right of the hole and trying to draw the ball towards the pin. I drew it perfectly and it just went into the hole. I couldn’t have dreamt it better, finishing in the cup.”
Gangjee, who almost returned from the oblivion on the final day to clinch the third place, said reading Harry Potter on Saturday night played a role in improving his game in the morning.
“After yesterday’s poor show, I wanted to get away from all and read the latest Harry Potter book on Saturday night. It seems to have done the trick,” said the Calcutta professional, who had an immensely forgettable day on Saturday.
Playing in an aggressive manner, Gangjee dropped two bogeys but reeled off six birdies including five in the front nine and also hit an eagle on the 14th.
“It hasn’t been a great year. I am trying to work harder in the second half and it’s kind of paying off now,” said Gangjee.
Much was expected from country’s top golfer Jeev Milkha Singh, but all he managed was to finish 13th with a total of three-under 285.
Among other Indians, Ashok Kumar (69), S.S.P. Chowrasia (70) and Arjun Singh (69) tied ninth at five-under 283.
Australian rookie Mitchell Brown enjoyed his best finish of the season at fourth place following a 67, while overnight co-leader Chapchai Nirat of Thailand settled for tied fifth place after a disappointing 76 alongside Chinese Taipei veteran Lu Wen-teh (72) and David Gleeson (72) of Australia.