KHALIN JOSHI - One stunning shot that led to a flurry of birdies and a cherished maiden title for Joshi

Second shot, par-5 14th, final round

2018 Panasonic Open India

As the winter sun started to drift towards the horizon, Khalin Joshi was facing all kinds of problems in giving a last push to his maiden Asian Tour title hopes in the 2018 Panasonic Open – India.

Joshi had started the final round at Delhi Golf Club tied for the lead at 13-under par alongside Bangladesh’s Siddikur Rahman, and one ahead of compatriot Ajeetesh Sandhu.

The lead was clinched thanks to a sensational round of eight-under par 64 the day before when he made nine birdies despite missing out on three greens in regulation.

The age-old adage in golf says it’s always difficult to follow up a low round with another, and Joshi was experiencing it first-hand. After starting the day with a bogey on the par-5 opening hole, he was even-par for the day after the 13th and had slipped one shot behind Siddikur and the steady Sandhu.

With just five holes remaining, Joshi knew he had to somehow find a way of turning things around. Bogeys were to be avoided and a birdie on the par-5 14th was becoming very important if he was to kickstart a run towards the finishing line.

A good tee shot on the 14th usually sets up a good birdie opportunity. It wasn’t Joshi’s worst drive, but it had leaked right into the rough. But that was not the only problem. When he reached his ball, he also found out that the intended trajectory of the ball was obstructed completely by the overhanging branch of a tree in front of him.

“When I was thinking about the second shot, I knew I had to give myself a chance for birdie. Siddikur was in a good position and he was already one ahead,” said Joshi.

Joshi decided to go for it. To do that, he needed to hit towards the left side of the green (pin was back right) and then slice the ball a long way to steer it on to the putting surface. Controlling the ball from the rough was going to be difficult as well. And with the dreaded DGC bushes guarding the left side, he’d be truly dead and buried if the ball did not follow his orders and turned towards the green.

He took out his 4-iron and executed what he thinks is his best shot till date.

“I sliced it almost 15-20 yards and managed to get it to the middle of the green, some 20 feet from the pin. Given the situation – not just my position on the leaderboard but also the fact that how badly I wanted my first win on the Asian Tour – it was a fantastic shot. It immediately lifted my confidence,” he added.

The Bengaluru-based pro two-putted for a birdie but Siddikur also managed a similar score on the hole and kept his one-shot lead intact. However, Sandhu made his only bogey of the final round and dropped out of the lead.

The impact of that stunning shot by Joshi was felt in the remining four holes. He went on to pick up shots on the 15th, the 17th and the closing hole to finish with four birdies in his last five holes and win the tournament by one shot at 17-under par.

By Joy Chakravarty (@TheJoyofGolf)

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