Digvijay Singh, riding on a wave of confidence following his participation in the prestigious World Cup of Golf, displayed outstanding resilience and brilliant shot-making skill to win the Rs one million Surya Nepal Masters, which concluded at the par-72 Gokarna Forest Golf Resort in Kathmandu, on Sunday.
Despite a double bogey on the par-5 11th hole, Digvijay hit a purple patch with three birdies from the 15th hole to submit a card of four-under 68. That gave him a three-day tally of 11-under 205, and a winner's cheque of Rs 1,62,200.
Overnight leader Rafiq Ali made a double bogey on the 17th and had to share the second place with Gaurav Ghei at seven-under 209.
Ghei, who partnered Digvijay in World Cup of Golf, shot a three-under 69 on the final day.
Uttam Singh Mundy, champion in this event in 2002, was fourth at 211, while C Muniyappa of Bangalore was joint fifth along with compatriot Rahul Ganapathy at 212. Among the Nepalese pros, Deepak Acharya was the best as he took lone possession of tenth place at one-under 215.
"The World Cup was a big boost to my confidence. I realised there that I can compete with the very best in the world and I am not too far away from their standards," said the Titleist-sponsored Digvijay.
"I really like this course which requires a lot of thinking and decision-making," added the winner who dedicated the victory to Bhim Sain Jain, honorary secretary of his homeclub in Meerut, who was recently murdered in a robbery attempt.
Digvijay started the day one stroke behind Rafiq, and the gap increased to three by the fifth hole. Rafiq made birdies on the first, third and fourth and a bogey on the second, while Digvijay made a birdie on the first and a bogey on the fifth. At this point, the Meerut pro made a superb comeback
with successive birdies on the sixth and seventh, and when Rafiq made a bogey on the eighth, both were tied at the turn.
On the back nine, Digvijay made a double bogey on the 11th and just when it looked like he was moving out of contention, he roared back with birdies on the 12th, 15th, 16th and 17th and missed another four-footer birdie opportunity on the 18th. Rafiq, meanwhile, went into the water hazard on the 17th and collected a double bogey.
"I played the tournament well except for the final nine holes that mattered. I should never have made a bogey on the par-5 11th, and the double on the 17th killed all my chances. But hats off to Digvijay who played really well when it mattered," said the genial Rafiq.
Ghei moved up the leaderboard with five birdies and two bogeys. "Considering that I came straight into the tournament and had no preparation apart from suffering jet lag, I think it has been a good finish for me," said the popular Delhi pro.
Results (after 54 holes): 205 _ Digvijay Singh (69,68,68); 209 _ Rafiq Ali (68,68,73), Gaurav Ghei (68,72,69); 211 _ Uttam Singh Mundy (65,74,72); 212 _ C Muniyappa (75,68,69), Rahul Ganapathy (74,66,72); 213 _ Rahil Gangjee (72,71,70); 214 _ Mukesh Kumar (68,73,73), Pappan (70,69,75); 215 _ Deepak Acharya (69,76,70); 216 _ Yusuf Ali (74,70,72); 217 _ Suleiman Ali (74,71,72); 218 _ Zai Kipgen (75,71,72), Feroz Ali (71,71,76).