Ashok Kumar pockets PGTI title

Ashok Kumar pockets PGTI title Mewat (Haryana), Dec 19 : Ashok Kumar inscribed his name on the PGTI Tour Championship trophy at the Classic Golf Resort here today as he outplayed Shamim Khan to take home the winner's cheque of Rs. 12,68,000.

Ashok shot a bogey-free 69 to finish with a tournament total of 15 under 273 and thus secured his seventh win on the Aircel-PGTI, which also happened to be his second title triumph of the 2009 season.

Shamim Khan fired 73 in the final round to finish one stroke behind Ashok Kumar in second place.

Anirban Lahiri's tied eighth finish helped him win the Aircel-PGTI Order of Merit title for 2009. The 22-year-old professional based in Bangalore had total earnings of Rs. 36,57,853 at the end of the season.

Mukesh Kumar was placed second on the Order of Merit as he had total earnings of Rs. 33,35,100 for the 2009 season. Ashok Kumar's win at the PGTI Tour Championship helped him climb from fifth to third place on the Order of Merit.

Ashok Kumar (65,69,70,69), who trailed Shamim Khan (67,68,66,73) by three shots at the start of the day, came up with a steady round that featured a birdie, an eagle and 16 pars.

It was a day of fluctuating fortunes for both Ashok and Shamim. Ashok came on level terms with Shamim after the eighth hole (13 under) as the former birdied the third while the latter birdied the third and fifth and bogeyed the second, fourth, seventh and eighth.

Ashok came up with a remarkable drive on the third (par five) and followed that up with an excellent second shot to make a birdie on that hole. Shamim on the other hand, three-putted on the seventh and then missed a chip-putt from the edge on the eighth for consecutive bogeys.

Ashok then took a one-stroke lead with a magnificent eagle on the 12th even as Shamim birdied the same hole. Ashok holed his second shot (lob wedge) from 70 yards out on the par four 12th. That was easily the shot of the day for the winner. Shamim then went on to birdie the 15th and was once again tied for the lead with Ashok.

The 18th hole proved to be decisive as Ashok recovered well after a poor bunker shot to make par while Shamim, who also found the bunker, missed an up and down and made bogey. Ashok converted an eight-footer for victory and Shamim missed a six feet putt for par.

Ashok, the 2006-07 PGTI Order of Merit winner, said: "It feels amazing to win after eight months. The victory is even more special because I've been away from competitive golf for the last one month since my mother has been unwell.

"I think I played a very steady round today and hit the ball well even though my putting was not that great. But I'm glad I managed to make the most important putt of the day on the final hole. I worked hard on my short game even when I was not playing tournaments in the recent past and that seems to have paid off this week. I'm now high on confidence as I head to the Asian Tour Qualifying School in January next year."

Shamim said: "I think my inability to come up with my best on the final day let me down once again. My putting also did not click today and I feel that I let the title slip when I made consecutive bogeys on the seventh and eighth."

Chiragh Kumar and S. S. P. Chowrasia finished in tied third at 10 under 278 while Rahil Gangjee and Raju Ali Mollah shared fifth place at nine under 279.

Gaganjeet Bhullar claimed 11th place with a total of six under 282 and last season's Order of Merit champion Mukesh Kumar finished tied 12th at four under 284.(IANS)