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Ashok Kumar clinches fourth golf crown of the season

May 06, 2007 23:13 IST

Ashok Kumar fired a four-under 66 to set a new tournament record on way to clinch the top prize of Rs 11.34 lakh in the Rs 70-lakh Crompton Greaves Open Golf tournament in Mumbai on Sunday.

The 25-year-old Delhi professional, who carded six-under 64 over the last two days after commencing his bid to win the title with three-under 67 on Thursday, claimed his fourth PGTI crown of the season with his stupendous show.

The triumph for Ashok, eight strokes ahead of his nearest rival Gaganjeet Bhullar, going into the last 18 holes of the 72-hole stroke-play event, was quite expected though the latter made a valiant effort to catch up with the runaway leader by carding a superb five-under 65 in the final round.

However, Ashok, with a four-round aggregate of 19 under par 61, finished a clear seven strokes ahead of second-placed Bhullar, who carded 12 under 268 at the Bombay Presidency Golf Club in suburban Chembur.

Meanwhile, Shamim Khan carded a one-under 69 to end up sole third with a total of six-under 274, while Uttam Singh Mundy and Vijay Kumar finished fourth at three-under 277.

"Gaganjeet played very well today and his short game was excellent," said Ashok. "However, I just played my own game. I always think of winning when I tee it up at the beginning of a tournament and am now looking forward to next week," he added.

Ashok, currently the highest earner on the PGTI tour with earnings of over Rs 38.50 lakh, started the day by missing a two-footer for birdie on the first, before firing a birdie on the fourth to be nine-under after 60 holes.

However, he dropped a stroke on the fifth where he three-putted from 12 feet, before hitting birdies on the sixth and seventh holes gave him a two-under score of 33 for his front nine.

Back-to-back birdies on the 11th, 12th and 13th holes took him to 20-under for the tournament and despite a bogey on the par-four 14th the effort was good enough to give him his fourth win this season.

Bhullar played some brilliant golf but failed to give Ashok much of a competition given the eight stroke gap between the two professionals.

He birdied the first and holed long putts for birdies on the third, fourth, fifth and sixth holes to make a charge for the title.

However, a bogey on the par-three eighth hole disrupted his charge and left him four-under-par for the day after nine holes.

Bhullar then picked up birdies on the 11th, 12th and 15th hole, but a double bogey on the par-five 16th hole and a bogey on the par-three 17th saw him drop three strokes.

The 19-year-old Bhullar then gallantly birdied the last to shoot a five-under 65 and seal the second place, earning his highest paycheck as a professional of Rs 7,84,000.

"I putted well today and after the sixth hole I actually thought I could close the gap and catch up with Ashok. But it would have been easier if I had shot an under-par score yesterday as well. I stuck to my routine today and it helped. The experience this week has been very helpful and my confidence is high for next week," said Bhullar.

Vijay Kumar was happy with his round which he started with an eagle on the very first hole, en route to carding a 67.

Mohammed Islam finished sole sixth at level-par 280, while Digvijay Singh, Arjun Singh, Harmeet Kahlon, S K Ahmed Ali and Sri Lanka's B G Lalaith Kumara were tied joint seventh at one-over-par 281.

Final scores (After 72 holes): 261 - Ashok Kumar (67, 64, 64, 66); 268 - Gaganjeet Bhullar (64, 69, 70, 65); 274 - Shamim Khan (70, 67, 68, 69); 277 - Uttam Singh Mundy (68, 68, 72, 69), Vijay Kumar (64, 76, 70, 67); 280 - Mohammed Islam (71, 69, 71, 69); 281 B G Lalith Kumara (70, 70, 67, 74), Digvijay Singh (70, 1, 67, 73), Arjun Singh (70, 68 ,73, 70), S K Ahmed Ali (72,70,70, 9), Harmeet Kahlon (68, 73, 72, 68).

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