Pune, India: There’s no stopping record-setting teenager Karandeep Kochhar.
Still on a high after writing his name into the record books as the youngest golfer and first Indian amateur to win on the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI), the 17-year-old topped the leaderboard in the Faldo Series India Boys Championship.
Three weeks after his historic triumph against many of India’s leading professionals, the six-foot tall student saw off his rivals in the 16th leg of the record-breaking 2016-17 Faldo Series Asia season.
Having taken control with an opening-round five-under-par 67 at the Oxford Golf and Country Club in Pune, Kochhar kept his pursuers at bay with further rounds of 71, 75 and 73.
With a 72-hole total of two-under 286, he ended no fewer than 17 shots clear of Jay Pandya, who settled for second place in the Boys’ Under-18 category.
Kochhar’s closest challenger overall was Kartik Sharma on 290. For Sharma there was the considerable consolation of topping the standings in the Boys’ Under-16 segment, atoning for his loss to Arjun Prasad in a sudden-death play-off 12 months earlier.
Prasad, who went onto to be crowned as the winner of the 10th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, was unable to defend his Indian title this year.
As age group champions in 2016, Kochhar and Sharma have secured starting places in the R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking-counting 11th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, to be hosted by Sir Nick Faldo at Laguna Lăng Cô in Danang, Central Vietnam, in March, 2017.
They will be joined at the award-winning Faldo Design course by left-handed Diksha Dagar, who triumphed for the second year in succession in the Faldo Series India Girls’ Championship, Tvesa Malik (Girls’ Under-21 champion) and Amrita Anand (Girls’ Under-18 champion).
Much focus of attention at the Grand Final will inevitably fall on Kochhar following his astonishing exploits in the PGTI Players Championship presented by Tollygunge Club at the start of November.
The Chandigarh resident fired a brilliant closing eight-under-62, the best round of the tournament, to sweep to a three-stroke triumph that earned him national exposure.
“It was an unbelievable feeling to win despite such a strong field of professionals. It’s done wonders to my confidence and self-belief,” said Kochhar, who is seeking the counsel of his family as to the timing of him relinquishing his amateur status and joining the ranks of those who play-for-pay.
Six-time Major champion Faldo, Britain’s most successful golfer, said: “Congratulations to Karandeep on what has been an incredible month for him and his development as a golfer. For a young amateur to beat a field of professionals is a proud achievement. To then follow that up with another victory is also an impressive feat.
“India remains the only country on the Faldo Series Asia schedule in which separate tournaments are staged for the boys and girls. My thanks to the Indian Golf Union event for their continued support to junior golf.”
Supported by The R&A and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the 2016-17 Faldo Series Asia campaign stretches over 11 months.