CHENNAI: Enjoying a cushion of seven-stroke lead overnight, Mukesh Kumar allowed things to drift even as Vijay Kumar putted wonderfully well to make the final day proceedings of the PGTI-125th year Madras Gymkhana Club-Tamil Nadu Golf Open into an engrossing contest here on Saturday. That Mukesh won by a slender margin of two strokes showed the intensity of the fight between the two.
The 44-year old Mukesh, who totalled a 13-under 267, bagged the winner’s cheque of Rs. 3,23,300 and his third PGTI title of the year, while Vijay took home Rs. 2,23,300. Shamim Khan and Digvijay Singh shared the third place at eight under 272.
Probably, Mukesh woke up on the wrong side of the bed. For a man who claimed that he would play attacking golf on the last day, his performance was anything but. On the front nine, he didn’t have a single birdie but only pars and a bogey on ninth. Vijay fared better with one under on the turn.
Mukesh progressively got worse on the back nine. His putting got bad while Vijay’s got better and after the 14th hole, the two were equal at 12-under.
Then fate intervened. A poor approach shot by Vijay saw the ball land in a bush in the 15th. Unable to hit from that spot, the Lucknow golfer decided to incur a penalty. Vijay finished the hole with a bogey and Mukesh had a birdie from six feet. “My approach shot landing in the bush definitely changed the complexion of the match,” said Vijay.
Mukesh expressed satisfaction while praising Vijay for his excellent putting. “I have not seen him putt like this for a long time,” he said. “I’m glad that I came through despite struggling with my putting today.
“When I and Vijay were on level terms after the 14th, I knew anything could happen since Vijay was putting really well. I played regulation golf today and just hung in there.”
Chennai’s Pradyumna Prakash won the amateur title finishing with a score of 11 over 291. He was 48th in the overall standings.
Final scores: Mukesh Kumar (65, 65, 66, 71) 267; Vijay Kumar (68, 68, 67, 66) 269; Shamim Khan (67, 65, 72, 68), Digvijay Singh (65, 70, 68, 69) 272; Gurbaaz Mann (65, 72, 69, 68), Vishal Singh (66, 68, 70, 70) 274; Anura Rohana (70, 68, 67, 70), Rafick Ali Mollah (70, 68, 68, 69) 275; C. Muniyappa (68, 68, 71, 69), Ashok Kumar (70, 67, 70, 69) 276.
Best amateur score: Pradyumna Prakash (73, 69, 76, 73).