Commanding Kapur ends 12-year title drought in Taiwan

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Commanding Kapur ends 12-year title drought in Taiwan

(Eds: updating with quotes and other details) Miaoli (Chinese Taipei), Apr 30 (PTI) Indian golfer Shiv Kapur today lifted his first Asian Tour title in 12 years, winning the USD 300,000 Yeangder Heritage Championships with a blemish-free eight-under 64 in the final round here.

He was three-under for the front-nine and five-under for last seven holes for a card of 64 to finish as the clubhouse leader at 16-under 272.

Starting the day at Tied-third at eight-under and two shots behind the leader, Yikeun Chang of Korea, Kapur — with three birdies — moved to 11-under and second at the turn.

Gavin Green (67) and Yikeun Chang (68) were tied for second at 14-under at the National Golf Country Club.

“It feels great to finally win once again. After losing my European Tour card in 2015 and then being laid low by a liver abscess in 2016, it is a big relief,” Kapur said after the triumph.

“It’s been a long, long time and this will give me a lot of confidence. I knew it was going to be a low-scoring final round and my putter stayed hot,” added Kapur, whose 12-year wait for a second Asian Tour title exceeded the 11-year-wait by his friend and senior colleague Gaurav Ghei.

Ghei first won in 1995 and then a second time in 2006 — also in Taiwan at the Mercuries Masters. Ghei went on to win a third title in 2007.

Of the other Indians in fray here, Sujjan Singh (67) played a third straight round in the 60s, including four birdies in last five holes, to finish Tied-22nd at five-under 283, as did Himmat Rai (71).

S Chikkarangappa, who was second after the first round, shot a 68, and ended Tied-27th because of two disappointing rounds on the second and third days. Khalin Joshi (70) was Tied-37th, Rahil Gangjee (70) was Tied-52nd and Chiragh Kumar (77) slipped to Tied-60th.

“This win means a lot to me. Honestly it hasn’t sunk in yet because I’m still in a bit of a daze. It has been a frustrating last couple of years so it is nice to be back where I belong,” said Kapur.

“I looked at the leaderboard on the 17th hole and I was already 15-under and two ahead. I had a downhill seven feet birdie putt on the last and made that. I can look back and say I did this right but you need some luck to win,” he added.

On his last few seasons, Kapur said he had his share of self doubt when he struggled with ill-health last year.

“I really struggled last year. I came back from a liver surgery in September and was lying on a hospital bed. It was frustrating because you couldn’t play.

“Now I’ve come back after six months and to win the way I did is satisfying. When you are away from the game, it gives you doubts about yourself especially when things are not going your way. This win comes at the right time,” he revealed.

The race was extremely tight, as Yikeun, who was two ahead after three rounds, and overnight second Green shared the lead at 12-under at the final turn.

Then on 12th, Kapur birdied as others parred to make it a four-way lead at 12-under with Rattanon Wannasrichan joining them.

Proceedings became exciting on the 13th, where all four birdied to get to 13-under. Yikeun and Rattanon bogeyed the 14th to fall behind.

Then as Yikeun got back a birdie on the 15th, Kapur also got a birdie to move to 14-under and become the sole leader with Yikeun and Green at 13-under.

When Kapur reached the 18th tee, the lead group was on 17th green. But none in the lead group got a birdie on the 17th and Kapur’s lead stayed intact. Kapur settled all doubts with yet another birdie on 18th to move to 16-under for the clubhouse lead.

Kapur, 35, won his maiden title in his Rookie year in 2005 at the Volvo Masters of Asia. Since then he has come second four times and third three times and been between fourth and tenth another 21 times.

But his only wins, two of them, came at the European Challenge Tour events in 2013 in India and Dubai.

On the huge gap between his last Asian Tour win and this one, he added, “After you haven’t won for so long, you might think that the best is behind you. When I first won I was in my early 20s as well and the older guys were chasing me down.

Now I’m the old guy!

“I played with Gavin Green in the third round and I can’t talk enough about what a great player he is. Today I played with two young Thai players so there are a lot of talent on the Asian Tour.”

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.