New Delhi, 27-03-2022
Ajeetesh Sandhu claims runner-up finish after playoff loss to Thailand’s Nitithorn Thippong amid high drama at The DGC Open presented by Mastercard
Gaganjeet Bhullar finishes fourth; Yuvraj Singh Sandhu, Shiv Kapur and Veer Ahlawat are tied sixth; Danthai Boonma sets the course record with a 64, secures tied 10th place
India’s Ajeetesh Sandhu claimed a creditable runner-up finish after his loss in a playoff to Thailand’s Nitithorn Thippong amid high drama on the last day of The DGC Open presented by Mastercard, an Asian Tour event, played at the famed Delhi Golf Club.
Thippong (68-70-70-73) and Sandhu (69-68-73-71), a winner on the Asian Tour in 2017, went into a playoff after they ended the regulation 72 holes in a deadlock with matching totals of seven-under 281.
On the decisive first playoff hole, played on the par-5 18th, 25-year-old Thippong prevailed to win his first title after he found the green in two shots and made a two-putt for birdie even as Sandhu found the bushes with his tee shot and could therefore just manage a par.
While Settee Prakongvech (71-70-70-71), another Thai golfer, took third place at six-under 282, India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar (73-66-73-72) finished fourth at four-under 284.
The Indian trio of Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (67), playing only his second event on the Asian Tour, finished tied sixth at two-under 286 along with compatriots Shiv Kapur (68) and Veer Ahlawat (73).
Thailand’s Danthai Boonma scored 10 birdies and two bogeys enroute his eight-under 64 to set the course record at the recently re-worked course. Boonma finished tied 10th at one-under 287.
The Indians who took a share of 10th place included Shamim Khan (70), Yashas Chandra (71) and M Dharma (74).
The 33-year-old Ajeetesh Sandhu, lying second and two off the lead after round three, made a birdie and bogey over the first 12 holes to continue trailing the leader Thippong by two shots. A great approach on the 13th and a quality chip-putt on the 14th earned Ajeetesh consecutive birdies and placed him in a one-shot lead ahead of Nitithorn who had bogeyed the 14th. Sandhu’s lead was extended to two shots when Thippong dropped another bogey on the 16th.
With victory in sight for Ajeetesh, there was another twist on the par-3 17th where Sandhu found the bushes with his tee shot and conceded a double-bogey to come back to level terms with Thippong. Both players then birdied the 18th with clutch putts from a range of eight to 10 feet to take the match into a playoff.
Ajeetesh said, “It was a good week. Looking back, I’ll definitely take a lot from it. It was disappointing how it finished but that’s golf. You always have to keep coming back from disasters. No regrets because while competing you’re always trying your best.
“I was struggling with my ball-striking recently but managed to turn it around this week. I was very comfortable with my hitting this week, especially on a course like this and with all the pressure of the last two days. I hit it well today even though the pin positions were quite tough. Now I just need to sharpen my putting.
“In hindsight, I would say on the 17th I tried to hit a shot which was not a high percentage one. I tried to move it with the wind to go into the flag but just didn’t make a good swing. On the playoff hole, I hit a good drive which landed on the fairway and just took off to the right. So I got a little unlucky there. I then chipped out with a 7-iron and followed that up with a gap wedge. I felt the wind held up the third shot a little bit leaving me a tricky 15-feet birdie putt.”
Yuvraj Singh Sandhu’s exceptional 67, the best round among the Indians on day four, featured an eagle on the par-5 14th, four birdies and a bogey.
Pictures: Asian Tour
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