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Rediff.com  » Sports » Rikard Karlberg lifts Indian Open

Rikard Karlberg lifts Indian Open

December 05, 2010 19:46 IST

Manav Jaini's nerves got the better of him and he missed out on what could have been his biggest professional triumph as Swedish golfer Rikard Karlberg lifted the Hero Honda Indian Open title after a dramatic final round in New Delhi.

In the end, Karlberg (70) won the 47th edition by two strokes with a total of 11-under 277 but it was a day filled with drama.

Jaini, who does not even have a PGTI title under his belt, was either in joint or sole lead till back-to-back bogeys on the 16th and 17th spoilt his card of 70 and left his overall total at eight-under 280 for a tied third finish in the $ 1.25 million Asian Tour event.

"I'm very disappointed. I didn't hit it badly through 18 holes. Just made a few wrong decisions. On 17 (which he bogeyed), I went for the flag when I should have gone for the heart of the green," said Jaini.

Overnight tied third, Jaini made a perfect start in the day by striking as many as five birdies in a blemish-free front-nine, which included a hat-trick from the first to third hole. But he undid the good work in a poor back-nine which was marred by three bogeys.

"I was 11 under (on the turn) and Rikard has just finished 11 under. Going into the back nine, I would have put money on myself to shoot level par. I guess it's the pressure of big events which do get you sometimes," Jaini said.

Karlberg's second Asian Tour title triumph this year was, in fact, largely a result of Jaini's slide.

The 24-year-old Swede, who earned his Tour card through the Qualifying School this year, played out a topsy-turvy front-nine, which included three birdies against a couple of bogeys.

Karlberg, who won the SAIL Open here earlier this year, and Jaini were joint leaders at 10-under overall till the 13th hole before a disastrous tee shot on the 14th ended up in a bogey for the Swede.

Karlberg's drive landed straight into the bushes that line up the treacherous DGC and he knew it the moment he struck the shot, throwing his club in disgust.

He could well have dropped a couple of strokes given the distance he had to clear to bring the ball back into the greens but Karlberg kept his cool to settle for a bogey.

Jaini got the much-needed breathing space due to Karlberg's evident lapse of concentration but he let it slip by dropping consecutive bogeys on the 16th and 17th.

Overnight leader Baek Suek-hyun (73) of Korea was also a part of the leading pack for a while after striking an eagle on the 14th but he too fell out of contention after a bogey on the 16th. Baek eventually finished second with a total of 279.

As Baek and Jaini slid, Karlberg rose with birdies on the 17th and 18th to establish a two-stroke lead and be firmly assured of the biggest prize cheque of his career – a whopping $198,125.

The Swede said the triumph is yet to sink in.

"It feels unbelievable. I came here with a goal to win but it's still quite unbelievable that I actually did it. It's my biggest win thus far. I was just trying to chase Manav but in the end, just amazing, what I did," he said.

"The experience of having played here helped. I knew how to handle the pressure. This golf course has turned it around for me. I will be back again, hopefully to win," he added.

Among other Indians in fray, Shiv Kapur also signed off tied third after returning his best card of the week – a five-under 67.

"Today was a really good day and it is a shame we could not fight for the win. My putting has not been as good as it should have been over the first few rounds but I am really happy with today's performance," Kapur said.

"I had a really good chance to win here today but it did not happen and I will be back next year to try again. I really enjoy playing here and the crowd support has been fantastic as well," Kapur added.

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