Chowrasia lifts Indian Masters title

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> SSP Chowrasia finally banished the gremlins and stunned a star-studded field to walk away with the Indian Masters title.

Updated: February 11, 2008 15:11 IST
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New Delhi:

SSP Chowrasia finally banished the gremlins and stunned a star-studded field to walk away with the Indian Masters title as the Delhi Golf Club witnessed a new star on Sunday.

Son of a greenkeeper at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club, SSP -- monikered 'Chipputtsia' for his magical short game -- signed off with a blemish-free final round of 67 and his aggregate of 279 was enough to make him only the third Indian -- after Arjun Atwal and Jeev Milkha Singh -- with an European Tour title against his name.

Thus, an Indian went on to win what was the first European tour event in the country.

"This is definitely the biggest title of my career. I did not have any inkling before the tournament that the title would be mine," said the beaming golfer.

"As I played the last three-four holes, I knew I had the title in my grasp and all I needed was to stay calm, which I did.

"Now that I have won it, I would play both in Asia and Europe before attaining my ultimate goal to play in the USPGA Tour," he said.

Chowrasia pocketed USD 416,660 for his exploits and finally laid his fingers on a prestigious title after finishing second in the Indian Open in 1999 and 2006.

Damien McGrane (281) of Ireland finished second after his final round of 70, two shots ahead of Jose Manuel Lara, who shot 72 today.

Digvijay Singh (70) and Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin (74) shared fourth spot at 284.

The only other Indian managing a top 10 finish was old warhorse Gaurav Ghei (285), who brought home a card of 71 and finished sixth, a place he shared with, among others, Ernie Els and Thomas Bjorn, who signed off with identical rounds of 71.

Atwal (288), a two-time winner on the European Tour and Chowrasia's playing partner, could not maintain his momentum and turned in his worst card of the week, a four-over 76, to see his title hopes go up in smoke.

The Orlando-based Indian bled six bogeys, against two birdies, to finish tied 15th.

The day, however, belonged to Chowrasia and notwithstanding the presence of filmstar Abhishek Bachchan, the diminutive Kolkata pro was the undisputed star of the day.

If well begun is half done, Chowrasia could not complain with the way he started.

He began with a birdie and by the time he finished his scintillating front nine, the Kolkata pro had grabbed the lead at four-under and to his credit, he did not let go of the advantage.

His back nine was a bogey-free affair with a birdie on the 11th and Chowrasia cantered to victory after a string of seven pars.

The win would also heal the wounds of the 2006 tragedy when Chowrasia, then leading the field, was disqualified from the 2006 Taiwan Masters for failing to sign his card.

Among other prominent Indians in the fray, first round leader Jyoti Randhawa (290) carded one-over 73 to finish tied 22nd, four shots ahead of compatriot and fellow European Tour regular Shiv Kapur (tied 38th), who signed off with an even-par round.

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