RAHIL GANGJEE – Gangjee’s ace with a driver on par-4 pales in comparison to his 1997 7-iron
Tee shot, par-3 second, second play-off hole
1997 Eastern India Amateur Championship
No story about Rahil Gangjee’s shot-making and career would be complete without a mention of that rarest of rare hole-in-one on a par-4 in a recognized Tour event.
The Indian ace famously holed his driver on the 318-yard long par-4 15th hole during Sunday’s final round of the 2011 Mylan Classic on Nationwide Tour (now called Korn Ferry Tour).
It is reckoned that the feat has been achieved only seven times in officially recognised professional tours – thrice on the Korn Ferry Tour, twice on the LPGA Tour, once on the PGA Tour and once on the PGA Tour of Australasia.
And yet, Gangjee insists that was not the best shot of his career!
Instead, he goes back to his amateur days – to the Christmas evening of 1997 when he took down Sheeraz Kalra in the finals of the East India Championship.
“Obviously, there were many unforgettable shots, but the earliest one, and one that I remember and cherish still, was when I was an amateur. It was my first East India finals and it was the second play-off hole after a gruelling 36-hole final had ended all square at Royal Calcutta Golf Club,” remembers Gangjee.
“We halved the first hole in pars. Then on the second hole, which is a par 3 and the green used to be much smaller in those days, I hit a great shot with a 7-iron to three feet to a back-left pin position tucked behind the bunker.
“That gave me the win and I still remember the caddies going nuts behind the green.
“I always think that shot really kicked off my career. I had not done much on the national scene before that win. It just lifted my confidence. I went on to win two more East Indias, one in Sri Lanka, a Northern India and a Western India, which I remember winning by 19 shots!”
As good as that shot was, we could not leave Gangjee without asking about his famous hole-in-one (video available on YouTube). Also, we needed him to set the record straight as to why he wouldn’t nominate that as his finest shot ever.
“So, I wasn’t playing well that week. If I remember properly, I was a few over par for the day playing the 15th of the Southpointe Golf Club in Canonsburgh, Pennsylvania. I had been struggling with my driver the whole week,” said Gangjee.
“They put the tee 20 yards up on Sunday so we could drive the green. The hole was now playing 318 yds. My playing partners had hit and I went last. I had been looking for a fade all day with my driver and was just happy when I managed to hit a fade finally on that hole.
“I saw it get to the green and bent down to pick up my tee. Meanwhile, about 30-40 people around the green, just lost their minds. I looked up confused and saw my playing partners coming back to me saying ‘You holed it, man!’.
“Truthfully, I was having a torrid week and I actually asked them if they were serious! I walked to the green to see if it was true. It was! Went straight to a hole-side bar and put down all the cash I had in my wallet, which was just 40 dollars, and bought dollar beers for everyone.”
By Joy Chakravarty (@TheJoyofGolf)
Picture: Asian Tour
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