Delhi, India: Anirban Lahiri won his second title in three weeks after defeating fellow-Indian SSP Chowrasia on the first hole of a sudden-death play-off hole at the US$1.5 million Hero Indian Open.
The 27-year-old, who was seven shots off the pace at the start of the day, fired a two-under-par 69 as overnight leader Chowrasia struggled in the blustery conditions to return with a disappointing 76 at Delhi Golf Club.
Both players finished on seven-under-par 277 in regulation play and returned to the 18th hole where Lahiri birdied from inside 10 feet. Chowrasia’s title hopes faded when his tee shot landed under thick branches.
The victory was Lahiri’s seventh Asian Tour title and second European Tour win. He won the Maybank Malaysian Open, also sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour, two weeks ago.
Lahiri, who extends his lead on the Asian Tour Order of Merit and is now ranked second on the Race to Dubai, was delighted to fulfil his childhood dream by winning his national Open.
“The new Hero Indian Open winner? That has a nice ring to it. I’m shocked. I really didn’t think that I will be in this position considering the way SSP and Siddikur have been playing. I thought all of us were playing for third,” said Lahiri, who will likely move just outside 30th on the Official World Golf Ranking.
“This has been a childhood dream so it is very special to keep the Indian Open trophy at home. Every Indian puts winning the Indian Open on their bucket list. I couldn’t have asked for a better day,” said Lahiri, the first local to win the Indian Open since C. Muniyappa in 2009.
He took advantage of Chowrasia’s stuttering form when he turned in 34 before trading one birdie against one bogey on the back nine. But it was a magical chip-in par on the 17th hole which kept him in the title race.
“That chip-in was crucial. I didn’t want to come down 18, needing to eagle it. Even when I played 18 in regulation play, I thought I needed to birdie it. That chip-in was easily the shot of the day. It was magical when it went in,” said Lahiri.
Chowrasia, a three-time Asian Tour winner, was gracious in defeat despite finishing second for the fourth time in his national Open. He was also runner-up in 1999, 2006 and 2013.
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