After going through seen years in wilderness, Shiv Kapur made it two-in-two winning the third edition of the Gujarat Kensville Challenge golf at the Kensville Golf and Country Club on Sunday. Going into the final round with a lead of four shots, Kapur suffered an early wobble, before steadying himself to card a one-under 71 and win by two shots over Andrew McArthur (69).
Kapur totaled tournament record 14-under 274 and enroute he also set a new course of 65 in the third round. McArthur aggregated 12-under 276 while four-time Challenge Tour winner, Philip Archer (69), who at one stage came within one shot of Kapur, ended third at 11-under 277.
Kapur became the second Indian winner of the Kensville Challenge after Gaganjeet Bhullar in 2011 and Rahil Gangjee was runner-up last year.
There was a more good news for the Indians, as veteran Mukesh Kumar (69) sank three birdies in last five holes to get into a tie for fifth place at seven-under 281, while last year's runner-up Rahil Gangjee (69) and the 2011 Kensville champion, Gaganjeet Bhullar (70), shared eighth place.
Kapur received a cheque of Euros 32,000, while McArthur picked up Euros 22,000 and Archer got Euros 14,000. Mukesh Kumar received Euros 9,000 and Gangjee and Bhullar took home Euros 4,700 each. The prizes were given by Sameer Sinha, Jaxay Shah, Jigish Shah, Rajan Ghai and Inder Talwar.
Minutes after coming off the 18th green Kapur remarked, "Maybe with two wins in as many starts, I have got two monkeys off my back," Kapur added jokingly. He won the Shubhkamna Champions title in December and now the Kensville Challenge. "I have had a lot on my mind, while planning and getting ready for the Pearl Golf Premier League and this win does give a great feel. Maybe I am good at multi-tasking."
Later speaking on his day, he said, "I started with 2 bogeys and made it tougher for myself and obviously both Phil and Andrew played great, Phil played well at the start and Andrew made a late charge, so they made it hard for me and in a way I made it hard for myself with the start I got off to," said Kapur.
"But never at any point did I feel out of control or I couldn’t get it back or any dire straits or such and I will put that to winning a couple of weeks ago, I felt pretty comfortable, I knew I was playing well, in a four round tournament you are bound to have few bad holes, but I was playing well enough to bounce back from that and I had two good birdies on 4 and 5 and still Phil kept coming back at me with few birdies but I think I played steady golf on back nine and I didn’t make any mistakes, went bogey-free, and in a way in charge of my own destiny."
Describing his round, Kapur said, "The start was shaky, had a bad trip on the first hole, bogeyed that, I actually though that I had a pretty good shot on the second but had a bad bounce and over the green, had a decent chip but misread the putt, it was bogey-bogey and from there I was just gathering myself."
But he did make quickie. "The fourth hole I made a really good putt which kind of settled the nerves a bit and got some momentum back in the round. I think one of the best shot was the fifth hole tee shot, it was a really tough pin, but I hit to about two feet, and that sort of gave me the cushion again. Seventh hole I had a bad first putt, woefully short, three putted and Phil made a birdie there and closed the gap and on the back nine my birdie came on the 12th, I got a really good wedge, to about four feet but still was not easy, it was a very crucial putt at that time because Phil and Andrew being one ahead and two ahead and that gave me some more comfort and 14th was probably the shot of the day, the second shot, it was a very very small target that you can aim at, the way the green is set up, I had a perfect cut three wood, exactly within two feet of where I was aiming and made a birdie there and I think till that point the most important point for me. In the 17th after Andrew made his birdie, the power putt from about 7 feet was crucial to hold the two shot lead."
That just about sealed the title for Kapur.
However, the day was not without drama. Kapur had a bogey-bogey start. He did get the two shots back with birdies on fourth and fifth, but had another bogey on seventh. Meanwhile Archer had a birdie run of three in a row from fifth to seventh. At that stage, the gap was just one with Kapur at 12-under and Archer at 11-under.
Archer's putter went cold thereafter as he had no more birdies coming his way, but McArthur did give Kapur a run at the end. At the turn McArthur was nine-under to Kapur's 12-under. Kapur birdied 12th and 14th, but McArthur birdied 12th and bogeyed 14th. The score was now Kapur
at 14-under and McArthur at nine-under and Archer at 11-under.
Now it was McArthur's turn to pour in the birdies. He had three in a row 15th to 17th to get to 12-under and just two behind Kapur.
The Indian faced a clutch seven-footer for par on 17th and he later called it the most crucial putt. “I really needed that or else a one-shot lead could make it exciting in a way that I did not want,” he laughed and said.
McArthur failed to get a birdie on 18th and Kapur got a comfortable par and with it came the win.
McArthur said, "I just kept doing the same things as I have done all week but I didn’t play quite as well tee to green today. I holed out really well sometimes but I threw a couple of shots away at the same time and had a bad tee shot off the 14th which gave me a silly bogey. I had reigned it in a little bit after a couple of bogeys on the front nine but then that bogey at the 14th came, which wasn't ideal."
He had an out outside chance on 18th. "At the 18th I was thinking if I hole that putt, he has still got a little knee-knocker to win but unfortunately it didn't happen. I just under-read the putt at 18. I thought it was going to come back from the outside right of the hole and then it just kept going left and slipped past but it was a good putt."
"It's a good start to the season. Obviously I want to win, that's why I'm here but after the last couple of seasons I have had, it's a great start.