CHIRAGH KUMAR - Hooked on to Chiragh’s memory – the shot that won him his maiden title
At the 2015 Panasonic Open India, Chiragh Kumar was cruising towards the finishing line for a possible maiden Asian Tour title on a golf course he knew better than the back of his hand. He had distanced himself from the field heading into the closing stretch on Sunday, but there was one player he was unable to shake off – Bangladesh’s Siddikur Rahman.
After 15 holes in the final round, both Chiragh and Siddikur were two-under par for the day, but crucially, the momentum was with the ace Bangladeshi, who walked up to the 16th tee with a birdie on the 15th. The difference was still one shot – a most tenuous lead on a course where danger lurks at every nook and corner.
The 16th hole at Delhi Golf Club gives the goosebumps to those not used to it. More than 400 years of history forms an imposing backdrop in the form of one of the famous Lodhi Dynasty tombs that are strewn across the course. The hole is called ‘Peacock Peafowl’ and the sudden plaintiff cry of the colourful national bird of the country can be another distraction.
And then there is the tree in the middle of the fairway just before the hole doglegs towards right. It is nearly 225 yards from the tee and dictates most shots.
Having played the hole countless times while virtually growing up at the DGC, Chiragh watched Siddikur hit a perfect drive. The pressure was well and truly on him as he took out his trusted 5-wood (the fairway runs out at 245 odd yards, so a perfect and safe club), and watched in horror as it sailed way left of his intended target.
Most holes at DGC dish out severe penalty for missing the fairway and it was no different for Chiragh that day. He found himself stuck under a tree. Given Siddikur’s position, he needed to give himself a chance of at least making a par.
“Siddikur was just one back and had already hit it around 15-18 feet for a birdie. I just decided to hit a low hook. It was risky, because if I didn’t pull it off, the tournament was done. That shot could have gone anywhere,” remembers Chiragh.
From approximately 190 yards, Chiragh hooked his 4-iron almost 20 yards to land on the green and left himself a 30-footer for birdie. He missed that putt, but so did Siddikur.
Probably dazzled by the audaciousness of Chiragh’s attempt, or trying extra hard to bridge the gap between them, Siddikur would then go on to drop shots on both 17th and 18th holes. And India got a new champion on the Asian Tour.
By Joy Chakravarty (@TheJoyofGolf)
Picture: Asian Tour
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