Kolkata, 28-12-2014

Local lad Shankar Das' sensational win at McLeod Russel Tour Championship earns him Rolex Player of the Year title

Gaganjeet Bhullar, Abhinav Lohan are joint runners-up; Shubhankar Sharma shoots rare albatross

Kolkata’s Shankar Das won the Rs. 1.5 crore McLeod Russel Tour Championship after his final round of three-under-69 at his home course, the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC). Shankar as a result of his win also topped the Rolex Rankings and bagged the Rolex Player of the Year title for 2014. Das totaled 16-under-272 for the week to register the biggest win of his career.

Kapurthala’s Gaganjeet Bhullar and Abhinav Lohan of the DLF Golf & Country Club, Gurgaon, were joint runners-up at 13-under-275 as they fired matching scores of 68 in round four.

Shankar Das (68-70-65-69), who started the final round with a two-shot lead, came out a determined man on Sunday. Shankar’s burning desire to win in front of his home crowd for the first time was reflected in his solid start as he birdied the first hole from 20 feet. Das, who was also in search of the Rolex Rankings crown, carried on the good work with another birdie on the fourth. 

The three-putt bogey on the 11th didn’t dampen Shankar’s spirits as he hit an outstanding tee shot on the par-3 13th and thereafter sank a 12-footer for birdie. The ever-smiling Shankar once again seemed unfazed after the dropped shot on the 14th as he came back stronger with birdies on the 15th and 16th thanks to some excellent wedge shots. The 31-year-old made pars on the last two holes to seal a comfortable three-shot win and take home his fifth tournament trophy. Das thus earned a handsome pay cheque of Rs. 23,77,500, the highest ever for a domestic tournament in India.

Shankar finished with total earnings of Rs. 54,32,067 for the 2014 season and therefore overhauled Bangalore’s Chikkarangappa S in the race for the Rolex Player of the Year. Chikkarangappa, who finished fourth at this week’s event, ended the year with total earnings of Rs. 47,15,336 to claim second place in the Rolex Rankings for the second year running.

“This is definitely the biggest win of my career. It’s helped me become number one on the PGTI for the first time. It’s also great to win on my home turf for the first time. The overwhelming support from the RCGC members, my family and friends through this week played a huge role in my performance. It’s been a tough time for my family this year. I missed about four tournaments midway through the season due to my mother’s poor health. However, I came back stronger on the tour with some good performances and top-5 finishes. It’s great to end the year with a win, my first in over 15 months. I will now aim to use my country spot to good effect on the Asian Tour next year,” said a beaming Shankar.

He added, “I didn’t bother too much about the leaderboard today and focused on playing a good round. I was lucky to get off to a good start with a birdie on the first. The birdie on the fourth really set up the round for me as my confidence was soaring by then. The best shot of the day was the tee shot on the 13th where I successfully negotiated a tough pin position.”

Gaganjeet Bhullar came into his own on the final day with a 68 that featured five birdies and a bogey. Bhullar did mount a challenge with a hat-trick of birdies on the back-nine but Shankar’s late charge on the 15th and 16th put paid to Gaganjeet’s title hopes.

Abhinav Lohan also mixed five birdies with a lone bogey on Sunday to end up in joint second along with Bhullar. Lohan, as a result, climbed from 16th to seventh position in the final Rolex Rankings.

Bangalore’s Chikkarangappa, who required a runner-up finish to seal the Rolex Rankings title, claimed fourth position at 12-under-276 after his final round of 69 and thus ended up in second position in the money list.

Delhi’s Shamim Khan finished a further stroke behind Chikka in fifth place. Shamim made five consecutive birdies from the 13th to the 17th during his fourth round effort of 71.

Gurgaon-based Shubhankar Sharma, the leader in the first two rounds, fired an incredible albatross on the par-5 fourth during his final round of 70. He holed his four-iron second shot from 224 yards to achieve the rare feat. This was only the fourth albatross on the PGTI. Sharma secured sixth place in the tournament as he totaled eight-under-280 for the week.

“It was unbelievable. I didn’t see the ball go in but I only realized I had made an albatross when I was walking up to the green and my playing partner Anura Rohana informed me that my ball was in the hole,” said Shubhankar.

Kolkata’s SSP Chowrasia shared seventh spot with Sri Lankan K Prabagaran at seven-undeer-281.

Arjun Atwal, another local favourite, ended ninth at six-under-282 in his maiden event on the PGTI. He shot a final round of 72.

The 2013 Rolex Rankings champion Rashid Khan of Delhi, who equaled the course record of 63 earlier in the week, was tied 10th at four-under-284 along with Sri Lankans Anura Rohana and Mithun Perera and Delhi’s Vinod Kumar.

Kolkata golfer Rahil Gangjee was joint 20th at one-under-287.

Jamshedpur’s Karan Taunk, who finished tied 61st this week, won the 2014 PGTI Emerging Player of the Year title for recording the highest earnings among the rookies this season. Taunk’s earnings for 2014 stood at Rs. 5,83,095. Mari Muthu of Bangalore finished second in the Emerging Player list with season’s earnings of Rs. 1,56,644.


About McLeod Russel:

McLeod Russel India Limited (McLeod Russel) is the largest tea production company in the world in the private sector. McLeod Russel, along with its subsidiaries, currently produces about 120 million kilograms of tea over a cultivable area of 38,000 hectares, employing nearly 1, 00,000 in personnel. The geographical spread of the tea estates of McLeod Russel and its subsidiaries are situated in Asia (India & Vietnam) and Africa (Uganda & Rwanda). McLeod Russel also has operations in the Middle East, through its subsidiary in Dubai, engaged in tea blending and trading activities. India, as a single geography, has the largest share of its produce – with the estates located in the states of Assam and West Bengal (Dooars).


About Royal Calcutta Golf Club:

The world-renowned Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC), affectionately known as the ‘Royal’, is steeped in history, as it is the oldest golf club outside of the British Isles, having been established in 1829. It is widely regarded as the founder of the game in the country and has staged some of the most prestigious tournaments on Indian soil, including the Indian Open and the All India Amateur Championship. The 7014-yard course favours long hitters and inaccurate shots are punished severely. The large number of water hazards makes this course a real challenge to master.


About Taj Bengal:

Taj Bengal, a city landmark in downtown Kolkata, and part of the Tata Group, is just 3 kms from the city’s commercial centre and is the nearest luxury hotel to Government Offices and Consulates. Located in the city’s greenest precinct, it is within walking distance of the Victoria Memorial, the Royal Calcutta Race Course, the Horticulture Gardens, the National Library and the Zoological Gardens. The hotel completed 25 years of welcoming guests in October 2014, and has hosted dignitaries such as Secretary of State Clinton, the Dalai Lama, Bollywood stars and senior business leaders, and other international VIPs and celebrities.

About PGTI:

Formed in 2006, Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) is the recognised official body of professional golf in India. PGTI's objective is to promote professional golf in the country, as well as to give players an opportunity to be involved in the decision making on all aspects of the game. Headed by Mr. Srinivasan H R (President), PGTI's governing body comprises leading Indian golf professionals. PGTI currently has over 300 members.

For information on PGTI, please contact:

Nikhil Kalaan

Media Manager - PGTI

Mobile: 9910974846

Email: media@pgtofindia.com