Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand clinched a thrilling play-off win for the Hero Indian Open golf title and the winners purse of Rs One crore at the KGA course here on Sunday. The 45 year old Thai who now has three Asian Tour titles this year and 15 overall, with this win tops the Order Of Merit list in the Asian tour.
But it should be said that Scot Richie Ramsay, leader on all three days and till the 18 hole today, squandered a three foot putt that cost the title and forced a play-off.
As has been the case on the last two days as well, in the play-off Ramsay hit the trees and into the water body off the tee and then despite an amazing approach shot was penalised a shot, was just off the greens with his third. Wiratchant too hit the sand bunk off the green on the 18 but with a brilliant chip was just off the `pin’ and parred deftly while Ramsay missed the par putt and with it slipped the trophy and title.
Earlier during regulation time, Wiratchant hit a great second shot to be just three foot off the pin to birdie and be 14 under 270 while Panuphol Pittayarat, the 19 year old Thai, frittered his par putt and bogied on the 18 to slip down to under-13 271, playing in the second last group. Ramsay, on under 15 coming into the final hole needed a par score for the title but the pressure seemed to tell as the Scot tried too hard and overhit only to bogey and with it kiss the trophy goodbye.
Pittayarat caught up with Ramsay in the eighth hole at under 13 before the overnight leader `eagled’ on the 11 to go two strokes up and maintained it till the 18 before the bungle. All this while the senior Thai Wiratchant inched his way but never looked threatening until the approach shot in the 18 which turned things around and brought a smile on the `grim faced’ veteran.
``I like to win..and though guys now are stronger and hit harder..I am capable of holding my own”.
``I never expected the play-off as Ramsay was in a comfortable position and was being interviewed when I was informed about the play-off. There again I was kept waiting in the fairways as Ramsay found the `gutters’ and took pretty long to hit his third shot and that made my body stiff and I did not hit a good shot as the ball landed in the `bunker’. Even then I was not confident as Ramsay had found the greens, but not happily positioned. Everything went off well after that...” said the champion.
India’s Shiv Kapur had an up and down final day as he came close to Ramsay midway through but then missed a couple of shots at crucial junctures to finish 12 under 272 and fourth overall.
Local lad S Chikkarangappa finished top amongst the five amateurs who made the cut, though on this day there was more disappointment than joy, finishing tied 26.
Final scores: Thaworn Wiratchant (Tha) (69, 68, 67, 66), Richie Ramsay (Sco, 66, 66, 70, 68) 270. Wiratchant wins on first play-off hole ; Panuphol Pittayarat (Tha) 67, 68, 69, 67) 271; Shiv Kapur (67, 71, 68, 66) 272; Anirban Lahiri (Ind) (70, 71, 66, 67), Jaakko Makitalo (Fin) (67, 68, 68, 71), Arnond Vongvanij (Tha) (71, 67, 67, 69) 274; Peter Hanson (Swe) (70, 71, 68, 66), Chiragh Kumar (Ind) (69, 71, 67, 68) 275.
Indians in top-30 ('A' denotes amateur): Tied 12th: Jyoti Randhawa (72, 68, 67, 70) 277; Tied 22: Gaganjeet Bhullar (68, 69, 70, 73) 280; Tied 26th: Harendra P. Gupta (69, 72, 71, 69), S. Chikkarangappa (A, 72, 68, 67, 74) 281; Tied 29th: Shamim Khan (72, 70, 70, 70) 282.