Bengaluru, August 12: From being one of the top amateurs of the country to the youngest Indian to win an Asian Tour trophy, Viraj Madappa has just scratched the surface of his success story. The Kolkata golfer who recently shifted base to the Garden City, found a huge fan following at the Karnataka Golf Association on Sunday (August 11) as he lifted the glitzy Take Solutions Masters trophy.
The stoic 20-year-old marched to a two-stroke victory without an etch of emotion on his face. The young pro made it look like a walk in the park! But the youngster indeed did have a wave of emotions going on underneath that stony face and after he successfully came from behind to win his maiden Asian Tour title, Madappa still had not come to terms with the enormity of his triumph.
Madappa who is just three months shy of 21, broke Gaganjeet Bhullar’s record of the youngest Indian to win on the Asian Tour. Bhullar won the Indonesia Invitational, when he was 21 years and three months, while Shubhankar Sharma won Joburg Open when he was 21 years and five months old.
Despite having carded steady under-par rounds throughout the week, Madappa had been lurking in the shadows of the heavyweights. The ever-changing leaderboard made the final showdown a thrilling affair. Overnight leader Miguel Carballo finished tied 2nd at a total of 14-under-270, along with Thai golfers Danthai Boonma, Suradit Yongcharoenchai and New Zealand pro Scott Vincent.
The odds were stacked in favour of local golfer Khalin Joshi, who started the day a shot behind leader Carballo. But Joshi endured the worst day of the week as the Bengaluru lad turned in a card of one-over-72 to end the tournament at tied 6th along with SSP Chawrasia and Honey Baisoya. Another local pro S Chikkarangappa notched up a top ten finish to end at ninth place with a total of 11-under-273.
Meanwhile, champion Madappa, who had started the day at tied 4th, two shots behind the leader, played a steady round of golf to notch up his first title since he turned pro in 2017. The Coorgi golfer started the day on even par, saving his first shot on the 5th, which was followed by his only dropped shot of the round on the 6th. The back nine, which had been his forte this week, saw the youngster save five shots. Madappa secured the lead on the 16th hole and calmly walked away with the trophy.
As the crowd broke into applause the 20-year-old found it tough to come to terms that he had actually pulled it off. Madappa was coming off a bad week, where he had missed the cut at the Louis Philippe Cup at the Prestige Golfshire course in Bengaluru.
Still trying to come to terms with his enormous victory, Madappa was at a loss of words as he struggled to describe his win. “I am really surprised. It hasn’t really sunk in yet and I’m feeling a lot of emotions. I don’t know which one to feel. I don’t know what to say. It’s been a roller-coaster since I came through the Qualifying School. I was playing good golf then but I went through a slump after that.
“A lot of hard work at that point of time. I really worked hard with my coach and my whole team, just to keep me going. I am very happy that I did all the work I could to win today. It has paid off,” said Madappa.
A big crowd had gathered at the KGA on Sunday to cheer on the youngster and Madappa enjoyed the audience. “It’s incredible really. My family has been very supportive. My mum is here with me today. It was great to see all the kids from the academy out here today. They were all like between six to 15 years old. They were probably the loudest in the crowd. You could tell it was them in the crowd. I was riding off their energy,” said the champion.
With the leaderboard going through a shuffle till the last few holes, Madappa only thought about winning when he reached the 15th hole. Speaking about his victorious round, he said, “Winning the tournament did cross my mind when I birdied the 16th hole but I was just trying to stay in the present and hit every shot I could the right way. I think I did a good job there. I didn’t back off from the situation, even though I had the opportunity to lay up on 18th hole. I decided to go for the green and I’m proud that I made that decision.
“I am going back home to Kolkata to celebrate with my family tonight and spend some time at home. I wasn’t looking at the leaderboard on the 18th. I only looked at it before I chipped. I was actually surprised on the 18th when I realised that no one was doing better than me,” signed off the young pro who secured his Asian Tour card for the 2019 season.
16-under-268: Viraj Madappa
14-under-270: Danthai Boonma, Suradit Yongcharoenchai, Scott Vincent, Miguel Carballo
12-under-272: Khalin Joshi, Honey Baisoya, SSP Chawrasia
11-under-273: S Chikkarangappa
10-under-274: Om Prakash Chouhan, Poom Saksansin, Josh Younger, Jake McLeod, Anura Rohana, Miguel Tabuena