Shankar lives a fairytale at home
It was double delight for Shankar Das as he clinched a fairytale victory at McLeod Russel Tour Championship with a final round card of three-under 69 and also bagged Rolex Player of the Year title for the PGTI order of merit at Royal Calcutta Golf Course on Sunday.
Shankar, who honed his skills at the RCGC, held his nerves in front of a boisterous home crowd to come up with a four-day aggregate of 16-under 272 to register the biggest win of his career. Kapurthala’s Gaganjeet Bhullar and Abhinav Lohan of the DLF Golf & Country Club, Gurgaon, were joint runners-up at 13-under-275 as they fired matching scores of 68 in round four.
Having started the day with a narrow two-stroke lead, Shankar had a solid start as he birdied the first hole from 20 feet in the Rs 1.5 crore prize money event. “I knew I could not go wrong from here at my home course. From there on, I tried to be simple by playing in the greens,” the ever-smiling Shankar told reporters.
The three-putt bogey on the 11th did not dampen Shankar’s spirits as he hit an outstanding tee shot on the par-3 13th and thereafter sank a 12-footer for birdie. Shankar was once again seemed unfazed after the dropped shot on the 14th as he came back stronger with birdies on the 15th and 16th, thanks to some excellent wedge shots.
The 31-year-old made pars on the last two holes to seal a comfortable three-shot win and take home his fifth tournament trophy. Das pocketed a handsome pay cheque of Rs 2,377,500, the highest ever for a domestic tournament in India en route to the Order of Merit title. “This is definitely the biggest win of my career. It’s helped me become number one on the PGTI for the first time. I want to thank (my sponsor) Dilip Thomas Sir who has supported me all along,” he said.
Dedicating the win to his ailing mother Aruna, he said: “It’s been a tough time for my family this year. I missed about four tournaments midway through the season due to my mother’s back surgery. However, I came back stronger on the tour with some good performances and top-5 finishes. It’s great to end the year with a win, my first in over 15 months. I will now aim to use my country spot to good effect on the Asian Tour next year,” a beaming Shankar added.
Bangalore’s S Chikkarangappa, who required a runner-up finish to seal the Rolex Rankings title, claimed fourth position at 12-under-276 after his final round of 69 and thus ended up in second position in the money list. Shubhankar Sharma, the leader in the first two rounds, fired an incredible albatross on the par-5 fourth during his final round of 70 and secured sixth place. Kolkata’s SSP Chowrasia shared seventh spot with Sri Lankan K Prabagaran at seven-undeer-281.