Bhasin lifts Crompton Greaves Open 2009 title

Mumbai, Nov 28 ( Kunal Bhasin of Australia shot a superb six under 58 on the final day of the Aircel-PGTI Crompton Greaves Open 2009 at the Willingdon Sports Club here Saturday to bag his first professional title.

Bhasin signed off with a tournament total of 16 under 218. C. Muniyappa fired a bogey-free 60 to finish one stroke behind Bhasin in second place.

The course at the Willingdon Sports Club is undergoing renovation and is being re-turfed. As a result of this, holes 7, 8 and 9 were not in play during the event. However, 18 holes constituted one stipulated round in round three and four. The players played holes 1 to 6 and then holes 10 to 18 before repeating holes 1, 2 and 3. The par for the course in round three and four was 64.

Bhasin (51, 51, 58, 58), who was overnight tied third, fired an eagle, six birdies and a bogey. The 30-year-old who hails from Brisbane, stayed in touch with overnight leader Muniyappa over the first nine holes, making birdies on the third, fifth and seventh.

His next birdie on the 12th came at a crucial juncture as it helped him come on level terms with Muniyappa. Bhasin had overshot the green with his drive on the 12th but a magnificent bunker shot from 35 yards stopped five feet from the hole.

Bhasin then made eagle on the par-five 14th to grab the lead. The eagle came as a result of his six-iron second shot that landed four feet from the pin. However, the Australian, who has been residing in Mumbai for the last three years, suffered a setback when he dropped a bogey on the 16th after missing a four-footer for par before sealing it when he drove the green on the 18th and subsequently made a five feet putt for birdie.

Bhasin’s triumph at the Rs.80 lakh event meant he took home the winner’s cheque of Rs.12,93,200 and thus climbed from 37th place to seventh position on the Aircel-PGTI Order of Merit for 2009.

Bhasin said: “This win is highly satisfying because it’s my first as a professional and also because I achieved it in Mumbai which has been my home in India for some time now. The course at The Willingdon Sports Club is almost like a home course for me since I have played a lot of golf here in the last two years. So I did have the advantage of local knowledge this week.”

The Queenslander, who has posted two other top-10s out of 15 starts in the current Aircel-PGTI season, added: “I think my game picked up when I started putting well on the back nine in round three. The birdie on the 12th and eagle on the 14th in round four were some key moments that turned the tide in my favour. The 25 feet putt for birdie on the fifth also came at an important stage.

“I knew the ball was in my court when I made the eagle on the 14th. From there on it was mine to win or lose. I did make a mistake on the 16th as I got a bit too cautious with my putting but fortunately recovered well to birdie the 18th.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank my parents back home in Brisbane for their support and I also thank all my friends here in Mumbai who came out and cheered for me today.”

Muniyappa (49, 48, 62, 60) fired four under 60 Saturday to secure second place. His final round featured birdies on the third, fourth, fifth and 18th. Muniyappa hit his approach shots extremely close on the third and fourth even as Mukesh Kumar, the other joint leader from round three, stumbled on the first few holes. The professional from Bangalore wrapped up his week with a 15 feet birdie putt on the 18th.

“I hit it well and had an outstanding last round, but Kunal played even better. I did sense an opportunity when he dropped a bogey on the 16th and I made a 15-footer for birdie on the 18th. However, Kunal held his nerve and made birdie on the last hole to avoid a playoff,” said Muniyappa.

“I think I made one bogey too many in round three that proved to be the difference at the end. I also missed a couple of short birdie putts today and missed out on an eagle opportunity on the fifth in round four,” added Muniyappa.

Mukesh Kumar finished third at 14 under 220 while Himmat Singh Rai was fourth at 10 under 224.

Arshpreet Thind, who shot five under 59 in round four to finish in tied 25th place, made a hole-in-one on the 15th on Saturday. His nine-iron tee shot landed on the slope on the 15th green and rolled back into the hole. This was the third ace of the tournament.

Muniyappa had earlier made a hole-in-one in the opening round while Gaurav Ghei had also fired an ace in round three.