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Feroz Ali wins Hero Honda Western Open

February 26, 2006 00:06 IST

Feroz Ali, needing only a birdie to avoid a play-off, nailed the testy eight-footer on the 18th hole and threw his cap and arms in ecstasy to win the Hero Honda Western Open, the 13th leg of the Amby Valley PGAI Tour, at the par-71 Poona Club Golf course on Thursday.

The Kolkatan, with a final total of 15-under 269, thus registered back-to-back victories in as many weeks and took home a handsome cheque of Rs 1,89,840.

SSP Chowrasia, who had finished second to Feroz last week at the Kohinoor Open, had to settle for a similar position, just a stroke behind Feroz.

He was richer by Rs 1,30,440.

Vijay Kumar, who had raised hopes of a victory, twice leveling with Feroz on the fourth and 16th holes, finished third at 272.

Sanjay Kumar submitted a card of 5-under 66 to be placed fourth while Rahul Ganapathy and Harinder Gupta were tied for the fifth spot.

As many as four players -- Vinod Kumar, C Muniyappa, Gurbaaz Mann and Arjun Singh shared the seventh spot at 277.

 Leading by two strokes overnight, Feroz increased it to three on the very first hole, drowning a 15-footer left to right putt for a birdie. However a hat-trick of bogeys on the next three holes brought him level with Vijay. Chowrasia, meanwhile, played steady golf with a birdie on the sixth and an eagle on the ninth, entered a three-way battle along with Vijay and Feroz.

The fight heated up on the back nine with Vijay and Feroz going hammer and tongs. With birdies on the 12th and 13th Feroz regained the two-shot lead after Vijay was unlucky with his putts on the same holes. Vijay fought back with a birdie on the 15th to reduce the lead to one stroke. Feroz on the next par-3 16th hole, was unlucky to hit a tree on his tee shot and made a bogey while Vijay missed a birdie. Yet the scores were level at 14-under. A grave mistake on the 17th by Vijay, who missed a four-feet par putt for a bogey, gave the 36-year-old Feroz a one-stroke advantage.

Meanwhile, Chowrasia, playing in a group ahead, birdied the 18th to be 14-under for the tournament and waited with bated breath for his city mate to finish. After Vijay Kumar had fiddled with his second shot on the final hole, Feroz chose to lay-up instead of going for the green. Vijay hit a brilliant third shot and was in line for a birdie.  Feroz replicated the effort and also set up a birdie chance.

 Feroz, after circumspecting the putt for a long time, hit the perfect line and made a birdie to avoid the play-off and win by a stroke.

"The victory last week had given me the confidence. And after that first round eight-under 63, I knew that I was going to win," said a visibly thrilled Feroz.

"I had a shaky start but I told myself to stay calm and just play my game. I was a bit nervous on the final putt but I was in a similar situation yesterday and today I knew exactly how to handle it," he added.

The home club's Dr. VT Date won the Amateur title with a total of 26-over 310.  

Leading scores (after 72 holes) (Pros): 269 Feroz Ali (63,66,72,68); 270 SSP Chowrasia (66,71,67,66); 272 Vijay Kumar (71,64,68,69); 273 Sanjay Kumar (66,69,72,66); 275 Rahul Ganapathy (71,67,68,69), Harinder Gupta (68,70,65,72); 277 Vinod Kumar (71,71,67,68), C Muniyappa (68,69,71,69), Gurbaaz Mann (70,67,69,71), Arjun Singh (67,66,73,71); 279 Mukesh Kumar (66,70,74,69), Ashok Kumar (72,66,71,70); 280 Sankar Das (70,71,67,72); 281 S Madaiah (67,74,70,70), Digvijay Singh (68,71,71,71). Amateurs: 310 VT Date (80,78,73,79); 319 Mehul Rastogi (75,78,87,79).