Shankar wins McLeod Russel Tour Championship, adjudged player of the year

Kolkata, Dec 28 (IANS) Local boy Shankar Das fired a final round of three-under 69 to win the Rs.1.5 crore McLeod Russel Tour Championship and top the Rolex player of the year title here Sunday.

Turning out at his home course, the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC), Shankar totalled 16-under 272 in the tourney to register the biggest win of his career.
Kapurthala’s Gaganjeet Bhullar and Abhinav Lohan of the DLF Golf and Country Club, Gurgaon, were joint runners-up at 13-under 275 as they fired matching scores of 68 in round four.
Shankar (68-70-65-69), who started the final round with a two-shot lead, came out a determined man Sunday. He had a solid start with a birdie in the first hole from 20 feet. Carrying on the good work, the 31-year-old got another birdie on the fourth.
Undeterred by a three-putt bogey on the 11th, Shankar hit an outstanding tee shot on the par-three 13th and thereafter sank a 12-footer for birdie.
The cool and composed former ball boy remained unfazed after the dropped shot on the 14th and came back stronger with birdies on the 15th and 16th thanks to some excellent wedge shots.
He made par on the last two holes to seal a comfortable three-shot win and take home his fifth tournament trophy. Shankar thus earned a handsome pay cheque of Rs.23,77,500, the highest ever for a domestic tournament in India.
Shankar, who was ranked third in the money list at the start of the week, finished with total earnings of Rs.54,32,067 for the 2014 season to overhaul Bangalore’s S. Chikkarangappa in the race for the Player of the year crown.
Chikkarangappa, who finished fourth at this week’s event carding 12-under 276 after his final round of 69, ended the year with total earnings of Rs.47,15,336 to claim second place in the rankings for the consecutive second year.
“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,” said a triumphant Shankar.
The golfer had missed some tournaments midway through the season due to his 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.”
Shankar said he didn’t bother too much about the leaderboard and focused on playing a good final round during the day.
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 Das’ late charge on the 15th and 16th put paid to his title hopes.
Lohan also mixed five birdies with a lone bogey Sunday to end up joint second along with Bhullar. Lohan, as a result, climbed from 16th to seventh position in the final rankings.
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 ended the tournament at the sixth place totalling eight-under 280 for the week.
Local talent S.S.P. Chowrasia shared the seventh spot with Sri Lankan K. Prabagaran at seven-under 281.
Veteran Arjun Atwal ended ninth at six-under 282 in his maiden event on the PGTI. He shot a final round of 72.
The 2013 rankings champion Rashid Khan of Delhi, who equalled 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.
Local golfer Rahil Gangjee was joint 20th at one-under 287.