Indian star S.S.P. Chawrasia romped to a commanding seven-shot victory to successfully defend his title at the US$1.75 million Hero Indian Open 2017 on Sunday.
The 38-year-old Chawrasia, who triumphed by two strokes last season, ground out a final round of one-under-par 71 to seal his sixth Asian Tour victory and fourth European Tour title at the demanding DLF Golf and Country Club’s Gary Player course with a winning score of 10-under-par 278.
Victory was worth US$291,660 and pushed him up to second place on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit behind American David Lipsky.
Malaysian rookie Gavin Green, playing on a sponsor’s invite, finished an impressive second after signing off with a 75, with his sterling effort sealing his full playing rights for next season after picking a runner-up cheque worth US$194,440.
Returning to DLF early Sunday to complete the last seven holes of his third round, the straight-shooting Chawrasia opened up a two-shot advantage after 54 holes, thanks to three straight birdies from the 13th to 15th holes.
Throughout the final round, the local hero was never threatened, extending his lead to five through the turn after he bounced back for bogeys on six and seven with birdies on eight and nine.
Another birdie on 13 put daylight between him and the chasing pack and Chawrasia soon strolled home to his “best win” of his career yet in front of his adoring fans.
Scotsman Scott Jamieson (72) and Italian Matteo Manassero (73) shared third place, eight behind the winner, while 2015 Asian Tour number one Anirban Lahiri (71) and Spanish duo Rafa Cabrera Bello (71) and Carlos Pigem (78) finished equal fifth on 287.
Did you know:
- Chawrasia claimed his sixth Asian Tour victory and fourth title on European Tour. He also matched Jeev Milkha Singh’s haul of four wins on the European Tour.
- Chawrasia could move into the top-170 on the Official World Golf Ranking with his win.
- In four rounds, Chawrasia dropped only six bogeys, the least by any player in the field. His seven-shot victory was also the largest margin of victory on the Asian Tour this year. He needed only 26.7 putts per round, the lowest in the field.
- Chawrasia becomes only the third player to make a successful defence of the Hero Indian Open since 1964. The first player to achieve the feat was Kenji Hosoishi (1967-68) and fellow Indian, Jyoti Randhawa (2006-07).
- Green picked up his biggest career cheque of US$194,440 which will seal his full card for the 2018 season. He moved up to fourth place on the Order of Merit.
- Green’s previous best finish on Tour was tied sixth in the 2013 Selangor Masters.
- Green had his father, Gary, on caddying duty this week. Green has three wins on the Asian Development Tour, with one in 2014 when he was still an amateur. He finished second on the ADT Order of Merit last year to earn his card on the Asian Tour.
- Prayad Marksaeng sank the first albatross of the season by sinking his four iron approach shot at the par five 18th hole today. It was also the 21st albatross in the history of the Asian Tour.
- Only seven players finished under par for the tournament, indicating the severe test at the DLF course. The stroke average this week was 75.42.
SSP Chawrasia (Ind), Final Round 71 (-1), Total 278 (-10)
I feel great as it’s one of the toughest courses I’m playing and winning by seven shots, I’m really happy. This is probably my best win of my career as it was a really tough course. This week, I made less mistakes and others made more mistakes.
I’m not comfortable on the course, I’m nervous on every single shot. When I finished the (third) round, I knew I had a few shots lead. I didn’t need birdies, just aiming for pars in the final round.
Honestly, this is very special to win back to back. I think this is one of the toughest courses I’ve played in my career. I learned many things and hopefully I can play better in Europe. That’s my target next, I have to win in Europe.
After the tee shot on 18, only then I felt I’ve won the tournament. I still don’t understand the golf course. Hopefully I’ll play a few more times on this course then only will I know how to play it better!