Chawrasia breaks jinx, wins Hero Indian Open
After being the bridesmaid no less than four times over almost half his life time, SSP Chawrasia finally won the Hero Indian Open at the Delhi Golf Club, the scene of his first career international win eight years ago.
Chawrasia, who was a scrawny 19-year-old, when he finished runner-up to Arjun Atwal in his home club, the RCGC in 1999, was runner-up three times more – in 2006 to Jyoti Randhawa; to Siddikur Rahman in 2013 and to Anirban Lahiri in 2015.
Chawrasia, who started the day, two clear of Terry Pilkadaris (76) and four clear of Anirban Lahiri (69) and Rashid Khan (72) shot one-under 71 including a superb birdie on 18th, to finish two ahead of Lahiri and Korean Jeunghun Wang (68).
Chawrasia tallied 15-under 273, while Lahiri and Wang were at 13-under 275. Rashid Khan finished Tied-sixth, while Shiv Kapur (70) was T-10 along with Rahil Gangjee (72) as five Indians finished in Top-10.
Chawrasia won US $ 276,660 and received the trophy from Mr. Pawan Munjal, Chairman, Managing Director and CEO of Hero MotoCorp. He also gets his European Tour card back and almost sealed his berth to the Olympic Games.
“There was an incredible sense of relief as I holed that last putt,” said Chawrasia. “Last night I was restless and tense and called up Jeev Milkha Singh to ask him how to deal with the situation. He has a lot of experience and has won many times in many places. He spent a lot of time talking to me and calming me. He asked me to focus only on my game and not get bothered even if someone else goes on a birdie charge. That’s how I kept focused despite the brilliant start by Anirban Lahiri.
The two-stroke victory at the Delhi Golf Club secured Chawrasia a full-time return to the European Tour besides the US$276,660 and it has also more or less sealed his berth to summer’s Olympics in Rio, where he will join Lahiri.
Chawrasia’s previous European Tour wins came in the co-sanctioned events – the 2008 Indian Masters at DGC and the 2011 Avantha Masters at DLF. In 2014 he won the Panasonic Open at the DGC, so the 2016 Hero Indian Open marked his third win at the DGC, where he has now finished in Top-10 ten times.
Chawrasia rode a combination of short game wizardry and a lion’s heart to get over the line with a final round. Starting the day two ahead of Terry Pilkadaris (76) who dropped way down to T-15, Chawrasia was four ahead of Lahiri at the start.
But the defending champion, Lahiri who made a dash from US to defend his title, wiped that lead by the sixth hole with a birdie-birdie-birdie start and Chawrasia’s bogey on sixth.
But Chawrasia hung in with birdies on eighth and 13th and Lahiri managed only one more birdie on 14th and also had a bogey on ninth. On the 18th Chawrasia stood tall under pressure.