Ashok clinches PGAI-TSM Open title

Delhi’s Ashok Kumar charged like a horse on steroids on the home stretch to clinch the Rs 28 lakh PGAI-TSM Open title at the Noida golf Course.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:06 IST
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Noida:Just when the Rs 28 lakh PGAI-TSM Open looked like an open-and-shut case for Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia, Delhi’s Ashok Kumar charged like a horse on steroids on the home stretch and blitzed the quality field by four strokes to win the richest event on the Hero Honda Indian Golf Tour in last three seasons. At the par-72 Noida Golf Club, Ashok was level-par for six holes before he went on an overdrive. His stunning round of seven-under 65 helped him tally 17-under 271 for the tournament, four better than the joint runners-up Mukesh Kumar and Rafiq Ali, who both closed with a 69. The victory, his third of the season, and the winner’s cheque of Rs 4,53,600 lifted him to No 1 in Order of Merit with final earnings of Rs 12.54 lakh. It also ended the four-year reign of Mukesh at the helm of Indian golf. Mukesh will be No 2 in 2003-04 season with earnings of Rs 10.51 lakh following his cheque of Rs 2,45,000. Overnight leader Chowrasia, who enjoyed a four-stroke lead over Ashok at the start of the day, found his swing switching off at the worst possible moment and he finished with a five-over 77 that was only good for tied sixth place along with Gaurav Ghei and Digvijay Singh at nine-under 279. Feroz Ali and Harmeet Kahlon were tied fourth at ten-under 278. Brothers Simarjeet Singh of OIL India and Jasjeet Singh of GAIL finished best among the amateurs, both tied at one-over 289. On a countback over last 18 holes, Simarjeet was declared winner for his level-par 72 on the final day as against Jasjeet’s 76. “This is my proudest moment as a golfer. I can now rightly be called the No 1 golfer of the country. However, I see this as the starting point of my career, and I have several goals to achieve,” said Ashok. After negating a bogey on the second with an almost give-in birdie on the par-3 third, Ashok missed birdie chances on almost every hole before making sandy birdies on the seventh and eighth holes. That spurred the 22-year-old as he added further birdies on the ninth, 12th, 14th, 16th and 17th. In the morning, Rafiq and Mukesh were the first to threaten the stranglehold of Chowrasia, who was completely off colour today. The Kolkata pro, who was a picture of consistency with his driver and irons on the first three days, could hardly find a single fairway. He saved pars from 20 feet on the first two holes, made a bogey on par-3 third after another wild tee shot and saved some blushes after chipping in from more than 40 yards for a birdie on the fourth. The story continued throughout the day and he finally finished with three bogies in-a-row for a 77. (Agencies)

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