Friday, March 24, 2017

Shamim Khan coasts to comfortable five-shot win at Kolkata Classic; Aman Raj finishes tied 28

Kolkata, March 24, 2017: With a three-shot overnight lead Delhi’s Shamim Khan was well aware that just keeping the errors out on the final day would pave the way for his victory at the Kolkata Classic 2017. That’s exactly what he did with a dogged final round of even-par-72 that earned him his first ever title at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC).

Shamim ended the Rs. 40 lakh event with a total score of 10-under-278 to bag his 13th professional title and take home the winner’s cheque worth Rs. 6 lakh. He thus climbed from fourth to first in the PGTI Order of Merit.

Reigning Indian Open champion and pre-tournament favourite SSP Chawrasia of Kolkata finished runner-up at five-under-283 after a final round of two-under-70.

Kolkata’s Shankar Das (72) claimed third place at four-under-284.

There was a marked difference in Shamim Khan’s (70-68-68-72) ball-striking on Friday. He went from hitting six out of 16 fairways in round three to 10 out of 16 in the final round. This massive improvement in his tee shots helped him coast to victory without much trouble in round four.

The 38-year-old Shamim made a confident start with an eight feet birdie conversion on the second. The pro from the Delhi Golf Club had a few anxious moments when he dropped bogeys on the sixth and seventh but his lead was intact as nearest rival Mukesh Kumar of Mhow stumbled with five straight bogeys at the same time.

Shamim, the PGTI’s all time prize money leader with over Rs. 3 crore in earnings on the tour since 2006, consolidated his lead by draining a 25-footer for birdie on the 12th and making a brilliant chip-putt for birdie on the 15th. The bogey on the 17th was a minor blip before he cantered to the title with ease.

Shamim said, “I was driving much better today and hit a lot of fairways early on as compared to round three. That gave me loads of confidence. I knew I didn’t need to do anything spectacular from there on. I just stuck to my plan of keeping it in play and that worked out well for me.

“I made a lot of good chip-putts this week that more than compensated for my poor driving in the first three rounds. I worked on my hitting yesterday and also sorted some problems with my alignment.

“I’ve always played well at the RCGC and had some top finishes here in recent years. But it feels great to finally win at one of India’s best golf courses,” added Khan, who has now displaced Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu as the Order of Merit leader with season’s earnings of Rs. 12,49,900.

SSP Chawrasia (71-70-72-70), who began the day in tied fifth, seven off the lead, carded an eventful 70 that featured an eagle, four birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey. He therefore moved up three spots and ended the week as runner-up at his home course.

SSP, fresh from his Indian Open win two weeks back, said, “I made many mistakes through the week. I needed just one really low score and that could’ve set up the tournament for me. But all credit to Shamim. It’s not often that one wins with such a huge margin at the RCGC.”

Shankar Das, another local professional, posted a final round of 72 to end up in third, one stroke behind Chawrasia.

Mukesh Kumar, who was overnight second and three off the lead, slipped to tied fourth at three-under-285 on Friday after a forgettable 76 that saw him drop six bogeys over a stretch of seven holes from the sixth to the 12th.

Chandigarh’s Sujjan Singh (71) and Om Prakash Chouhan (71) of Mhow shared fourth place with Mukesh.

Among the other prominent names, Chikkarangappa (73) was tied 12th at even-par-288 and Rashid Khan (71) was tied 15th at one-over-289.

Lucknow’s Sanjay Kumar shot the best round of the tournament, a five-under-67, to clinch tied 20th place at three-over-291.

Patna's Aman Raj was placed tied 28th along with two others with a total of 5 over 293. Aman played one over 73 on the last day. 

Caption for Prize Presentation pictures:
Shamim Khan receives the winning cheque and trophy from Mr. Yashaswi Shroff, Director, Alcove (extreme left), also seen in the picture are Mr. Uttam Singh Mundy, CEO, PGTI (2nd from right) and Col. Devrishi Singhal (Retd.), CEO, RCGC (extreme right).

PGTI release

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Shamim Khan surges ahead on penultimate day; Bihar's Aman at T30

Shamim Khan

Kolkata, March 23, 2017: Shamim Khan’s near-flawless short-game helped him surge ahead by three shots in the penultimate round of the Kolkata Classic 2017 even as his driving woes continued at the Rs. 40 lakh event.

The Delhi-based professional, known for his effortless golf swing, struck the day’s joint best score of four-under-68 at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) to take his total to 10-under-206. He thus moved up one spot from overnight second.

Mhow-based Mukesh Kumar, on the other hand, conceded his overnight lead and slipped to second after an even-par-72 that saw him struggle on the greens. Mukesh’s three-day total stood at seven-under-209.

Kolkata’s Shankar Das made significant gains on day three, moving up 11 places to tied third as a result of his 68 which was the joint best score of the day along with Shamim’s round.

Shankar shared the third position along with Sri Lankan Mithun Perera (70) at four-under-212 on a day that witnessed just 11 under-par rounds.

Pre-tournament favourite SSP Chawrasia of Kolkata signed a card of 72 to be tied for fifth at three-under-213 along with Sanjeev Kumar (70) of Lucknow and Noida’s Gaurav Pratap Singh (71).

Shamim Khan (70-68-68) was erratic off the tee yet again but that didn’t stop him from producing a second straight 68 that handed him a valuable three-stroke advantage.

Despite finding just six out of 14 fairways on Thursday, the 38-year-old Shamim continued his rise in the tournament with an eagle, three birdies and a bogey. The highlight of his round was the eagle on the par-5 fourth where he holed out from 110 yards. He also sank a couple of birdie putts from 20 to 25 feet.

Shamim, a winner of 12 professional titles, came up with three stupendous par-saves as well that made his round all the more special.

Shamim said, “I’ve been low on confidence because of my poor driving but my approach shots, chipping and putting have been the saving grace. I made some excellent par-saves from difficult positions today.

“I’ve never won at the RCGC before so that is a motivating factor for me this week. In the final round, the priority would be to make a steady start by hitting maximum fairways and greens. That would get my confidence going. I can then play as per the demand of the situation.

“With the experienced Mukesh, Shankar and Mithun behind me, a poor start could see my lead disappear quickly. So I have to play some conservative golf to begin with, in order to force the others to do the catching up.”

Mukesh Kumar (69-68-72) just couldn’t find the hole from short-range from the first to the fifth. He thus ended up dropping three strokes on that stretch.

However, Mukesh revived his round with some accurate hitting that led to birdies on the sixth, 10th, 15th and 16th. The 51-year-old finally conceded a three-shot lead to Shamim when he found the hazard on the 17th for a bogey against the run of play.

Mukesh said, “I wish I had made just one birdie on the first five holes. That would’ve changed the course of the day. Nonetheless, I’m happy that I fought back well from the sixth onwards.

“My ball-striking has kept me in the contest so far but I have to sink those short putts in order to have a chance in the final round. I don’t have the option of sitting back in round four, I have to play aggressively from the word go and apply pressure on Shamim.”

Shankar Das was the highest-placed local professional in tied third. He was having a quiet day with pars till the seventh, but an astounding approach on the eighth set up a tap-in birdie for him. Shankar’s round took off thereafter as he went on to add an eagle and two birdies against a lone bogey.

SSP Chawrasia made an incredible four birdies on his last five holes to card a 72 which meant he closed the day in tied fifth, seven strokes off the lead.

Among the other prominent names, Chikkarangappa (76) was tied 10th at one-under-215, Rashid Khan (71) was tied 19th at two-over-218 and PGTI Order of Merit leader Ajeetesh Sandhu (72) was tied 24th at three-over-219.
Patna'a Aman Raj was tied 30th with 4 over 220 along with three others. He shot one over 73 today.

Photo and release: PGTI

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Mukesh Kumar takes the halfway lead at Kolkata Classic; Patna's Aman Raj makes the cut

Mukesh Kumar

Kolkata, March 22, 2017: The seasoned Mukesh Kumar grabbed the halfway lead at the Kolkata Classic 2017 courtesy his second round of four-under-68. The man from Mhow was ahead by one at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) as his total read seven-under-137.

Delhi’s Shamim Khan also fired a second round score of 68 to occupy second place at six-under-138. His was the only bogey-free round of the day.

Pre-tournament favourite SSP Chawrasia of Kolkata brought in a card of 70 to end the day in tied fourth at three-under-141.

The cut fell at five-over-149. Fifty-four professionals made the cut. Patna's Aman Raj also made the cut with 3 over 147. On the second day, he shot one over 73 while on the first day, he fired 2 over 74.

Mukesh Kumar (69-68) moved up two spots from overnight tied third to first as a result of his determined second round effort which saw him fire five birdies at the expense of just one bogey.

The 51-year-old Mukesh, the winner of a record 18 titles on the PGTI who finally registered his first international win last year in Delhi, began his ascent to the top with a 25-feet birdie conversion on the fourth on Wednesday.

Mukesh’s birdie on the eighth was negated by a bogey on the 10th but the oldest winner on the Asian Tour came roaring back with a trail of birdies on the 14th, 15th and 16th. He was in troubled waters on the 15th and 16th but made excellent recoveries to extract birdies on both holes.

Mukesh said, “I have two victories at the RCGC, but it’s been a while since I last won here, definitely over a decade. So I’m eager to perform well this time. I was quite pleased with the way I recovered on a couple of holes today. I was in the bunker on the 15th and in the rough on the 16th, but managed birdies on both occasions.

“I’m well placed to consolidate from here on but the experienced Shamim, Chikka and Chawrasia are likely to give me tough competition over the next two days.

“I’m now focusing on sharpening my game further ahead of the Asian Tour event in Japan next month. The conditions will be totally different in Japan so I’m planning my preparation accordingly. The emphasis is on the approach shots and putting.”

Shamim Khan (70-68) climbed from overnight tied seventh to second place after delivering the only bogey-free round of the day. Shamim sank three birdies from a range of 12 to 30 feet on Wednesday.

“My driving has been off but despite that I’ve dropped just one bogey in the tournament so far. My short-game has kept me in contention. I matched the course record of 63 in the year-ending tournament held at the RCGC last year. That is a positive memory that I’ve carried into this event,” said Shamim.

While overnight joint leader Chikkarangappa of Bengaluru slipped to third at five-under-139 after shooting a 71 on day two, local favourite SSP Chawrasia made major gains with a 70 that took him from overnight tied 18th to tied fourth at three-under-141.

Chandigarh’s Sujjan Singh (71) and Sri Lankan N Thangaraja (71) joined Chawrasia in tied fourth.

Chiragh Kumar, the round one joint leader, slipped to tied 14th at even-par-144 after his second round of 76.

Delhi’s Rashid Khan and PGTI Order of Merit leader Ajeetesh Sandhu of Chandigarh were in tied 31st place at three-over-147.

Kolkata-based rookie Viraj Madappa (eight-over-152) missed the cut.

PGTI release and photo

Chikka, Chiragh call the shots in round one of Kolkata Classic

Chiragh Kumar

Kolkata, March 21, 2017: Established names and former PGTI Order of Merit champions Chikkarangappa and Chiragh Kumar called the shots in round one of the Kolkata Classic 2017 with matching scores of four-under-68 at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC).

While Bengaluru-based Chikka regained his putting formon Tuesday, Delhi’s Chiragh Kumar continued to impress following a creditable top-25 at the recently concluded Indian Open.

The Mhow-based duo of Mukesh Kumar and Om Prakash Chouhan, Chandigarh’s Feroz Singh Garewal and Delhi’s Ikramuddin Shah were bunched together in tied third at three-under-69.

The tournament’s star attraction, SSP Chawrasia of Kolkata, returning to his home course after his second consecutive Indian Open win, made a steady start with a one-under-71 to lie tied 18th.

Chikkarangappa, the 2015 PGTI Order of Merit champion, reaped the rewards of going back to the putter that was part of his golfing arsenal for 11 years and contributed to his tremendous success at the junior, amateur and professional levels. The brief spell in between when the two-time Asian Development Tour (ADT) winner tried out several different putters hadn’t been very fruitful.

Chikka started the week in style with three birdies on the first four holes but then had a torrid time from the fifth to the eighth, dropping four consecutive bogeys as a result of some erratic hitting.

After being level-par through 14 holes, the 23-year-old produced a final flourish which began with a 75-feet eagle conversion on the 15th. He signed off with two more long birdie conversions on the 17th and 18th.

“I think I’ve putted so well after almost a year. I missed some short ones on the front-nine but it was a different story on the back-nine where I kept draining it from long range,” said Chikka, who mixed an eagle and seven birdies with five bogeys.

He added, “I was trying out new things and kept changing my putter over the last one year. But that didn’t help. So, two weeks back, during the Indian Open, I went back to the putter that won me most of my titles since the junior level.

“Now, I feel much more confident on the greens. As the putter is perfectly in sync with my routine, I don’t think too much and just make my stroke. This thing was missing in my game over the last one year.

“I’m now looking to post a top finish here at the RCGC, the venue where I won the PGTI year-ending championship in 2015. That would also help me get my Asian Tour season back on track since I missed cut in four consecutive events on the tour before the Indian Open.”

Chiragh Kumar, fresh from an impressive tied 22nd finish at the Indian Open, continued the good work with a solid start to the Kolkata Classic week. Chiragh, one-over through the front-nine, kick-started his round with a 45-feet birdie conversion on the 10th. From there on, he went on to add an eagle and three birdies at the cost of just one bogey.

Chiragh, the 2012 PGTI Order of Merit champion, said, “My second shot from over 200 yards that landed within five feet and resulted in an eagle on the 15th was the highlight of the day.

“I’ve enjoyed a good start to the Asian Tour season with a top-5 in Bangladesh and another decent result at the Indian Open. I’m playing well and have been consistent of late. Hitting and putting, it all came together today,” added Chiragh, a tournament winner on the Asian Tour.

SSP Chawrasia sank three birdies against two bogeys on day one to occupy tied 18th place at one-under-71.

Chawrasia said, “An under-par round here at RCGC is always a good start. There’s a lot of golf yet to be played this week and being three off the lead in round one is not too bad.

“I feel the one week break from golf after the Indian Open has done me a lot of good. It was necessary for me to recharge my battery, so that I could get rid of the physical and mental fatigue after such a demanding week at the DLF Golf & Country Club. I feel, I’m now back in the competitive zone.”

Kolkata-based rookie Viraj Madappa, playing his first professional event in his home town, shot a 79 to be placed tied 101st.

Press release and photo: PGTI