File image of Karandeep Kochhar.(File)
Karandeep Kochhar fashioned a remarkable come-from-behind victory at his home course, prevailing in the playoff against Anirban Lahiri at the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational golf tournament, that was extended by a day due to fading light, here on Monday.
Local favourite Kochhar, who began the tournament with a disastrous four-over-76, made a grand comeback with his next three rounds of 66, 67 and 68 to end up in a playoff with pre-tournament favourite Lahiri after both carded 11-under-277 for the week.
The Rs 1.5 crore event, presented by TAKE Sports, yet again produced a play-off like the two previous editions at the Chandigarh Golf Club.
The 21-year-old Kochhar (76-66-67-68) and Lahiri (70-68-70-69) were in a deadlock after being tied at the end of the first two playoff holes on Sunday.
The meet was then extended due to the fading light and playoff resumed with the third extra hole on Monday. This was the first time in PGTI history that a tournament was extended by a day.
Kochhar, who began the final round in sixth place and three off the lead, went through a rollercoaster of emotions on Sunday after incurring a one-shot penalty for accidentally causing the ball to move on the 17th hole which as a result forced the match into a playoff.
He showed great mental fortitude to come back and prevail on the third playoff hole on Monday making a 15-feet birdie conversion even as Lahiri missed his 12-footer for birdie.
Kochhar thus claimed back-to-back wins on the TATA Steel PGTI having won the previous event on the tour at the same venue last month.
This was his third title and second win as a professional on the PGTI. He had won his first title on the tour while still an amateur in 2016.
“I went on the range this morning and practised some drivers and wedges,” Kochhar said.
“I knew the flag was easier with water not in play so my focus was on hitting a good drive down the middle to set up a 100 yards full sand wedge approach and then get inside 10 to 15 feet of the pin to put the pressure on Anirban. I managed to execute this strategy well,” he added.
Kochhar’s win pushed him up from second to first position in the PGTI Order of Merit as his winning cheque of Rs. 24,24,750 took his season’s earnings to Rs. 33,50,680.
He also earned five Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points which propelled him from 442 to 355 in the world rankings.
“I got good advice from Jeev Sir last evening who told me to believe in myself no matter what the situation. It means a great deal to me having made such a good comeback after starting with a 76,” Kochhar said.
“Winning two events in a row is special and I feel I can continue this winning spree further at the next event in Jamshedpur as I’m playing the best golf of my life right now.” It was also a memorable outing for PGA Tour regular and seven-time international winner Lahiri who returned to play an event on the PGTI after over six years.