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Liang pips Beck at the post

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GRACE UNDER PRESSURE: On the 17th tee, Liang Won Chong knew he had to pick up at least two shots on the last two holes to avoid a playoff for the title with Darren Beck, and he went on to do just that.
GRACE UNDER PRESSURE: On the 17th tee, Liang Won Chong knew he had to pick up at least two shots on the last two holes to avoid a playoff for the title with Darren Beck, and he went on to do just that.

Rakesh Rao

NEW DELHI: It was truly a champion-like finish that brought long-time front-runner Liang Won Chong the honours in the $one million Hero Honda Indian Open at the Delhi Golf Club course here. From being a stroke behind with two holes to go, Liang pulled off a thrilling birdie-birdie finish to take the title he so richly deserved.

For the better part of Sunday, the Chinese was on cruise mode.

Leader for the first three rounds, the 30-year-old was ahead by at least two strokes until he bogeyed the 14th hole and double-bogeyed the 15th. This left him tied with Australia’s Darren Beck.

Sensing his chances, Beck birdied the final hole for a seven-under 65 and a tally of 15-under 273. At this point, Liang was on the 17th tee and needed to pick up at least two shots on the last two holes to clinch the title without going through the agonising playoff, in case of a tie.

As things turned out, Liang unleashed a terrific tee-shot on the 171-yard par-3 17th and birdied from under three feet. Having caught up with Beck, Liang came up with two good hits to reach the fringe of the green, just above the bunker. Amid rising tension, he held his nerve and chipped to less than five feet from the cup and then holed the birdie-putt for the winner’s cheque of $158,500.

For the record, Liang’s final day 70 gave him an aggregate of 16-under 272, one better than Beck whose 65 set up a thrilling finish.

Adam Blyth broke away from Jeev Milkha Singh with a final-hole birdie for the third spot, worth 61,000. Jeev, who later said he almost pulled out of the competition this morning following a stiff neck, finished fourth, his best in the country’s flagship event.

Mukesh Kumar and Ashok Kumar tied for the sixth spot. However, defending champion Jyoti Randhawa shot a 74 to finish tied 50th.

The amateur title went to Moin Malak who shot a third par in four days for a 289.

Final scores: Liang Wen-Chong (Chn) (60, 71, 71, 70) 266; Darren Beck (Aus) (70, 70, 68, 65) 273; Adam Blyth (Aus) (70, 67, 66, 72) 275; Jeev Milkha Singh (65, 74, 68, 69) 276; Guido van der Valk (Ned) (77, 61, 70, 69) 277; Mukesh Kumar (68, 73, 68, 70), Ashok Kumar (70, 67, 70, 72) 279; Muhammad Munir (Pak) (69, 69, 72, 70), Mars Pucay (Phi) (71, 67, 70, 72) 280.

Other Indians: Sanjay Kumar (66, 72, 73, 70) 281; Jaiveer Virk (71, 69, 71, 71) 282; Shamim Khan (73, 70, 70, 70) 283; Himmat Rai (70, 71, 69, 73) 283; Harinder Gupta (70, 68, 74, 72) 284; Chirag Kumar (72, 73, 69, 71), Gaganjeet Bhullar (71, 71, 72, 71) 285; Gaurav Ghei (69, 69, 71, 77), Vinod Kumar (72, 69, 69, 76) 286; Manav Jaini (71, 71, 71, 74), Vikrant Chopra (71, 70, 74, 72) 287; Mohammad Islam (72, 70, 70, 77), Moin Malak (A) (72, 72, 73, 72) 289; Jyoti Randhawa (74, 69, 73, 74) 290; Manav Das (A) (71, 73, 72, 75) 291; Arjun Singh (72, 73, 73, 76) 294; Ali Sher (72, 70, 76, 77), Rafick Ali (70, 71, 74, 81), Karanjit Sandhu (68, 74, 78, 76), Shankar Das (74, 71, 78, 73) 296; Yusuf Ali (73, 72, 77, 76) 298; H.S. Kang (A) (71, 73, 80, 87) 311.

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