Randhawa edges out Mukesh Kumar to retain DLF Masters title

Gurgaon, Sep 21 (UNI) Ace golfer Jyoti Randhawa retained his DLF Masters crown after he edged out veteran Mukesh Kumar by one stroke at the DLF Golf and Country Club here today.

Striking a one-under 71 in round four, Randhawa ended his campaign with a total of eight under 280 for the tournament.

Mukesh Kumar, on the other hand, finished one stroke behind Randhawa at seven-under 281, though he produced a fabulous round of five-under 67.

Randhawa has now registered four wins out of four starts on the PGTI and has also climbed to 10th on the PGTI Order of Merit.

Mukesh, who was third on the order of merit prior to the DLF Masters 2008, is now the current leader on the PGTI Order of Merit as a result of his second place finish here.

Randhawa (72, 68, 69, 71) recorded his first win since the 2007 Indian Open which was largely due to a solid final round of one under 71 at his home course.

Beginning his campaign poorly with a double bogey on the second where he landed his tee shot in the left rough, Randhawa soon recovered by sinking a birdie on the third.

The defending champion made another birdie on the ninth to make the turn at even par. He then made pars all the way till the 14th.

Meanwhile, Mukesh had caught up with Randhawa as both had totals of seven-under. However, Randhawa once again took the outright lead when he knocked down a birdie on the 15th, which slumped him back into the joint lead with Mukesh for a brief period after dropping a bogey on the 17th and then sealed his win by making a 20 feet two-putt for birdie on the 18th.

Elated over his long-awaited win, Randhawa said, ''This win is of great significance for me because I have not been in the best of form recently. I think I was trying too hard to win in the early part of the tournament and that's why I was not at the top of my game. But today I felt great in the morning while practicing and knew that a solid performance was round the corner.'' ''Mukesh gave me a tough fight and I did get a little nervy towards the end. But all said and done I am glad that I came through. This win is a good return to form for me,'' Randhawa asserted.

''I always feel highly motivated when I am playing in India because people expect a lot from me. At DLF the home course advantage also weighed in my favour,'' he quipped.

Mukesh (72, 72, 70, 67) ended a creditable second after shooting the day's best round. The four time winner on the PGTI in the 2007-08 season began his round with a birdie on the first.

He sank two more birdies on the sixth and seventh to make the turn at three-under. Later his back-to-back birdies on the 10th and 11th brought him on level terms with Randhawa at seven-under.

However, his bogey at the 12th dropped Mukesh back into second.

But a birdie at the 15th made him to be the joint leader once again.

The professional from Mhow parred the last three holes even as Randhawa shot ahead with two birdies and a bogey on his last four holes.

''I played a good round today as I hit all the fairways. However, my putting let me down because I missed two three feet putts for birdie and a four feet putt for eagle on the sixth. I gave myself a number of chances but could not convert them,'' Mukesh said.

''The biggest disappointment was my third shot on the 18th. I hit a chip shot from the left edge of the 18th green which went over the green. Had I hit that shot closer to the pin, I would have had a great birdie opportunity. A birdie at that stage would have put the pressure back on Randhawa,'' added Mukesh.

''Even though I lost out on the title, it feels great to be back on top in the PGTI Order of Merit,'' he affirmed.

Ashok Kumar (72, 73, 70, 68) capped his week with a brilliant 68 to finish third at five under 283. Ashok sank two eagles and four birdies while he dropped strokes with two bogeys and a double bogey.

Gaganjeet Bhullar (67, 72, 72, 75) and Shamim Khan (72, 70, 69, 75) were both tied fourth at two under 286, while Arjun Singh (71, 72, 70, 78) secured seventh place with an overall score of three over 291.

However, Rahul Ganapathy (73, 73, 76, 74) and Harmeet Kahlon's (68, 76, 74, 78) matching totals of eight over 296 helped them finish tied 15th.

Harendra Gupta (71, 74, 74, 79) was two strokes behind Ganapathy in tied 22nd place.

Digvijay Singh (73, 74, 77, 78) secured a share of 32nd place as he finished the tournament at 14-over 302.

In the team championship, Ashok Kumar (professional), Mukesh Kumar (professional) and Gagan Verma's (amateur) team emerged victorious with a net score of 133.

The team comprising of Pappan (professional), Chiragh Kumar (professional) and Varun Verma (amateur) came in second with a net score of 135.

In the closest to the pin contest for the amateurs, Sharad Misra emerged victorious as his tee shot landed merely four feet nine inches short of the pin on the par three 11th hole.

Amateur golfer Neelam Pratap Rudy won the longest drive contest for amateurs on the 12th hole. Her drive measured 252 yards.

The straight drive contest was also at stake for the amateurs on the fifth hole. Steward Baker won this competition as his drive was just four feet five inches away from the centre of the fairway.


Story first published: Sunday, September 21, 2008, 21:02 [IST]
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