Ajeetesh Sandhu had almost spoilt his own party before staging a fine comeback to beat Jyoti Randhawa in a playoff and claim his maiden professional title in the Rs. 95 lakh DLF Masters at the DLF Golf and Country Club here on Sunday.
Sandhu, who started the day with a 10-under, sunk three double bogeys and a couple of bogeys to face a real threat from a flawless Randhawa. However, the Chandigarh golfer, who managed a four-over 76 in the final round, hung in there to tie with Randhawa at a four-day total of 282 and force a playoff.
In the tie-breaker, Sandhu held his nerve to execute a clean tee-shot, followed it up with a precise hit to the edge of the green and consumed two more strokes to complete the par-five 18th hole.
Two-time champion Randhawa, who employed a ‘switch hit’ to rescue the ball lying too close to a tree, gave a good chase to Sandhu. However, he bowed out of the contest after his fourth shot from about 20 feet narrowly missed the cup and Sandhu putted it from five feet to punch in the air.
Earlier, Sandhu had faced a similar problem like Randhawa after hitting it nearer to the trees on the fifth and seventh. He invited further trouble by finding the rough and a bunker on 12th for another double bogey.
Sandhu had a sigh of relief after earning birdies on the last two holes. “I was not nervous. I had a couple of bad shots. What happened to Jyoti in the playoff had happened to me in regulation,” said the 24-year-old, who pocketed the winner’s purse of Rs. 15,35,675 in his fourth year as a professional.
“I was ready for the playoff as I had a birdie-birdie finish to the round,” added Sandhu, who jumped from 22nd to fifth in the Order of Merit.
Randhawa was full of confidence while garnering a three-under round. Once he had grabbed the lead for a brief period, after sinking a spectacular birdie on the 17th, and looked like bagging the title again.
Rashid Khan and Om Prakash Chouhan, who was the best performer of the day with a four-under score, shared the third spot at 283. Himmat Rai captured the fifth place.
Harendra P. Gupta, who finished tied-22, had his share of attention after achieving a hole-in-one on the par-three eighth hole.
The scores: Ajeetesh Sandhu (70, 66, 70, 76) and Jyoti Randhawa (73, 69, 71, 69) 282 (Sandhu won in the playoff); Om Prakash Chouhan (74, 70, 71, 68) and Rashid Khan (73, 71, 68, 71) 283; Himmat Rai (69, 71, 74, 70) 284; Gaurav Pratap Singh (71, 68, 73, 74) and Ashok Kumar (73, 71, 69, 73) 286; Abhijit Singh Chadha (71, 72, 72, 72) and Vikrant Chopra (73, 73, 71, 70) 287; Mithun Perera (75, 70, 72, 71), Anura Rohana (73, 68, 75, 72) and Shamim Khan (71, 74, 71, 72) 288.