Rakesh Rao

MANESAR (Haryana): Like on the first three days, ‘King Kong’ Chapchai Nirat again stood on the 18th green studying the line for a birdie-putt. But unlike the previous occasions, a small group of officials, players and caddies at the Classic Golf Resort awaited a historic-putt from about eight feet.

Nirat, having learnt to be a monk in 2007, stayed focussed and finished the job with a firm putt. When the ball settled in the ‘cup’, Nirat’s final-round five-under 67 for a tally of 32-under 256 in the $300,000 SAIL Open golf championship signalled the lowest winning score in any four-round tournament around the world.

Records galore

Nirat’s winning score was an improvement over the record of 31-under returned by Ernie Els in the 2003 Mercedes Open. Also out of the record book is the Asian Tour record of 29-under that Els posted in the 2003 Johnnie Walker Classic at Perth.

This was the also the lowest winning score recorded in the country, bettering Mukesh Kumar’s 30-under in the 2005 DDA Open in New Delhi.

Nirat kept his emotions in check even after his awesome performance. “I am very happy that my winning score is a World record. But my goal this week was to win the event. Even if I had not broken the record, I would have been happy to win here. Since I was comfortably ahead of the field, I could play my natural game. I did not come under any pressure at any time,” he said.

Apart from the records, Nirat walked away armed with winner’s share of $47,550, an Omega watch worth Rs. 2.20 lakh and a well-crafted trophy.

Bhullar joint second

Twenty-year-old Gaganjeet Bhullar missed a possible birdie on the final hole to share the second spot with Australia’s Richard Moir. They received $25,425 each.

Nirat’s claim to his third Asian Tour title was never under any threat once he started the final day with an eight-stroke cushion.

The scores:

Chapchai Nirat (Tha) (62, 62, 65, 67) 256; Richard Moir (Aus) (66, 67, 66, 68), Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind) (67, 64, 66, 70) 267; Srirot Thammanoon (Tha) (67, 68, 67, 67), Mark Purser (Nzl) (65, 63, 72, 69),Keith Horne (RSA) (68, 67, 64, 70) 269; Chris Gaunt (Aus) (70, 66, 67, 67), Wisut Artjanawat (Tha) (65, 64, 72, 69) 270; Rory Hie (Ina) (67, 70, 67, 67), Ross Bain (Sco) (67, 68, 66, 70), Antonio Lascuna (Phi) (65, 67, 67, 72) 271.

Other Indians: Ashok Kumar (67, 68, 67, 70) 272; Amandeep Johl (68, 69, 69, 68) 274; Vikrant Chopra (72, 68, 68, 67), Shiv Kapur (68, 66, 69, 72) 275; Digivjay Singh (71, 69, 69, 67), S.S.P. Chowrasia (66, 71, 68, 71) 276; Himmat Rai (71, 68, 68, 70) 277; Jyoti Randhawa (71, 69, 68, 70), Rahil Gangjee (67, 67, 71, 73), Gaurav Ghei (69, 67, 69, 73) 278; Mukesh Kumar (70, 70, 70, 69) 279; Arjun Singh (68, 72, 70, 70), Vijay Kumar (68, 70, 73, 69), Raju Ali (72, 67, 72, 69) 280; A.S. Lehal (70, 66, 71, 74), Naman Dawar (67, 69, 70, 75), C. Muniyappa (68, 66, 74, 73) Gurki Shergill (71, 69, 71, 70) 281; Rafiq Ali (67, 70, 75, 70), Anirban Lahiri (72, 72, 78, 70) 282; Sujjan Singh (69, 66, 74, 74) 283; Shamim Khan (66, 72, 74, 73) 285; Nabin Mondal (71, 68, 78, 75) 292.

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