Kolkata, March 24 (IANS) Delhi's golfer Shamim Khan put up a dogged final-round show of even-par 72 to clinch the Kolkata Classic title by five shots, while Indian Open champion S.S.P. Chawrasia finished second at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) here on Friday.
This was Shamim's maiden Kolkata Classic title. With a three-shot overnight lead Shamim was well aware that just keeping the errors out on the final day would pave the way for his victory.
And he did exactly that with a total score of 10-under 278 to bag his 13th professional title and take home the winner's cheque worth Rs. 6 lakh. He thus climbed from fourth to first in the PGTI Order of Merit.
There was a marked difference in Shamim's ball-striking on Friday. He went from hitting six out of 16 fairways in round three to 10 out of 16 in the final round. This massive improvement in his tee shots helped him coast to victory without much trouble in round four.
The 38-year-old Shamim made a confident start with an eight feet birdie conversion on the second. The pro from the Delhi Golf Club had a few anxious moments when he dropped bogeys on the sixth and seventh but his lead was intact as nearest rival Mukesh Kumar of Mhow stumbled with five straight bogeys at the same time.
Shamim, the PGTI's all time prize money leader with over Rs. 3 crore in earnings on the tour since 2006, consolidated his lead by draining a 25-footer for birdie on the 12th and making a brilliant chip-putt for birdie on the 15th. The bogey on the 17th was a minor blip before he cantered to the title with ease.
"I was driving much better today and hit a lot of fairways early on as compared to round three. That gave me loads of confidence. I knew I didn't need to do anything spectacular from there on. I just stuck to my plan of keeping it in play and that worked out well for me," Shamim later told reporters here.
"I made a lot of good chip-putts this week that more than compensated for my poor driving in the first three rounds. I worked on my hitting yesterday and also sorted some problems with my alignment.
"I've always played well at the RCGC and had some top finishes here in recent years. But it feels great to finally win at one of India's best golf courses," added Shamim, who has now toppled Chandigarh's Ajeetesh Sandhu as the Order of Merit leader with season's earnings of Rs. 12,49,900.
Pre-tournament favourite Chawrasia finished runner-up with a 72-hole total of five-under 283 after a final round of two-under 70.
Kolkata's Shankar Das (72) claimed third place at four-under-284.
Chawrasia (71-70-72-70), who began the day in tied fifth, seven off the lead, carded an eventful 70 that featured an eagle, four birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey. He therefore moved up three spots and ended the week as runner-up at his home course.
"I made many mistakes through the week. I needed just one really low score and that could've set up the tournament for me. But all credit to Shamim. It's not often that one wins with such a huge margin at the RCGC," Chawrasia said.
Mukesh Kumar, who was overnight second and three off the lead, slipped to tied fourth at three-under 285 on Friday after a forgettable 76 that saw him drop six bogeys over a stretch of seven holes from the sixth to the 12th.
Chandigarh's Sujjan Singh (71) and Om Prakash Chouhan (71) of Mhow shared fourth place with Mukesh.
Among the other prominent names, S. Chikka (73) was tied 12th at even-par 288 and Rashid Khan (71) was tied 15th at one-over 289.
Lucknow's Sanjay Kumar shot the best round of the tournament, a 67, to clinch tied 20th place at 291.