Golf : Hero Indian Open won by Anirban Lahiri beat to Chawrasia in play-off
New Delhi (N4C Sports)- It was a dream come true for Anirban Lahiri, who admitted that at the start of the final round he really did not think it could happen. He kept soldiering on and kept his wits and nerves about him in the closing stages to emerge as the latest Hero Indian Open winner.The 27-year-old Lahiri became the eighth Indian and the seventh Indian professional to win the Hero Indian Open and it marked the first time an Indian had won the National Open since 2009, when C Muniyappa grabbed the title. Lahiri was also the first Indian since 2007 to win it at the Delhi Golf Club.
Lahiri’s two-under 69 helped him close the seven-shot gap with SSP Chawrasia (76) and then the two were engaged in a play-off, which Lahiri won with a birdie as Chawrasia went into the bushes off the tee and never recovered.
It also marked the fourth time Chawrasia had finished runner-up – after 1999 (to Arjun Atwal), 2006 (to Jyoti Randhawa) and 2013 (to Siddikur) – in the Indian Open where he has finished in the Top-10 on two other occasions.
It was Hero MotoCorp’s Brand Ambassador Lahiri’s second title in three weeks following his win at the Malaysian Open earlier in February.
Lahiri was seven shots off the pace at the start of the day, as overnight leader Chawrasia struggled in the blustery conditions to return with a disappointing 76 at the challenging Delhi Golf Club.
Both players finished on seven-under-par 277 in regulation play and returned to the 18th hole where Lahiri sealed the win with a birdie from inside 10-feet. Chawrasia’s title hopes faded when his tee shot landed under thick branches.
The victory was Lahiri’s seventh Asian Tour title and second European Tour win. He won the Maybank Malaysian Open, which was also sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour, two weeks ago.
Lahiri, who extends his lead on the Asian Tour Order of Merit and is now ranked second on the Race to Dubai, was delighted to fulfil his childhood dream by winning his National Open.
“The new Hero Indian Open winner? That has a nice ring to it. I’m shocked. I really didn’t think that I will be in this position considering the way S.S.P. and Siddikur have been playing. I thought all of us were playing for third,” said Lahiri, who will likely move just outside 30th on the Official World Golf Ranking.
“This has been a childhood dream so it is very special to keep the Indian Open trophy at home. Every Indian puts winning the Indian Open on their bucket list. I couldn’t have asked for a better day,” said the smiling smiled Lahiri.
He took advantage of Chawrasia’s stuttering form when he turned in 34 before trading one birdie against one bogey on the back nine. But it was a magical chip-in par on the 17th hole which kept him in the title race.
“That chip in was crucial. I didn’t want to come down 18, needing to eagle it. Even when I played 18 in regulation play, I thought I needed to birdie it. That chip-in was easily the shot of the day. It was magical when it went in,” said Lahiri.
Chawrasia, a three-time Asian Tour winner, was gracious in defeat despite finishing second for the fourth time in his National Open.
“It’s been a great week and I played well for three days and had some bad shots in the final round but it’s ok. The problem today was the wind. It was gusting a lot and made it very difficult,” he explained.
“I am proud of myself for hanging in there to make the play-off and there is always a next time. Anirban is a great friend and he played well to win the play-off. I am playing well and hopefully it continues like this.”
Sri Lanka’s Mithun Perera enjoyed his best result in 2015 when he posted a 69 to share third place alongside Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng (71), Marcus Fraser (72) of Australia and Joakim Lagergren (69) of Sweden.
Other leading Indians:
While Lahiri was the winner and Chawrasia the runner-up, Jyoti Randhawa (71) and Shubhankar Sharma (69) were tied 17th. Jeev Milkha Singh (72), Rashid Khan (70) and Manav Jaini (71) were tied 24th . Arjun Atwal (70), S Chikkarangappa (73) were tied 31st.
Daniel Chopra, the Indo-Swede, was tied 11th after his gallant run on the front nine was spoilt by the back nine.
277 – Anirban LAHIRI (IND) 73-65-70-69, S.S.P. CHAWRASIA (IND) 65-67-69-76.
281 – Daniel CHOPRA (SWE) 70-72-65-74.