India's Ahlawat records his best-ever finish, Nakajima clinches maiden DP World Tour win

PTI | Gurugram | Updated: 31-03-2024 19:19 IST | Created: 31-03-2024 19:19 IST
India's Ahlawat records his best-ever finish, Nakajima clinches maiden DP World Tour win

India's Veer Ahlawat recorded his best-ever finish in a DP World tour event, signing off tied second after carding a fine one-under 71 on the fourth and final day of the Hero Indian Open at the DLF Golf & Country Club here on Sunday.

The 28-year-old, who was five shots adrift of leader Keita Nakajima of Japan, produced a sensational eagle on the last hole to end the tournament with a four-day total of 275, four shots adrift of winner Nakajima.

Nakajima stayed calm and composed as he claimed his first DP World Tour title in emphatic style as a closing 73 handed him a four-shot wire-to-wire win.

The 23-year-old, playing his first full season on the Tour, thus became the fifth Japanese winner in DP World Tour history and his victory, the seventh by a Japanese player, comes as part of a remarkable purple patch for his nation on the Tour.

Starting the day from sole sixth position, Ahlawat, who had finished tied fifth last Sunday at the Kolkata Challenge, shared the second position with Swedish Sebastian Soderberg and USA's Johannes Veerman with both shooting a matching 67 on day 4.

''I am really happy how I played on the course, especially in front of my family. I got married a few weeks back. So it was the best moment when I finished with the eagle on the last. That was a highlight,'' said Ahlawat.

''Whole week I hit the ball really well, just one bad drive on the 8th and I dropped a shot there but other than that I didn't hit bad shot today.

''Playing well in front of such a good field, such strong field really pulls up my morale. There was little pressure on me to play well this week and I am really happy.'' Ahlawat, who tops the PGTI Order of Merit, also had birdies and four bogeys in his card, apart from the last-hole eagle.

Among other Indians, Manu Gandas (71) and Karandeep Kochhar (69) finished tied 11th and 13th respectively with totals of nine-under 279 and 8-under 280.

Star Indian golfer Shubhankar Sharma finished tied 31st after carding a second successive 72 on the final day to end with a total of 284. At the top, Nakajima, who entered the final round with a four-shot advantage, was an epitome of consistency as he extended his lead to nine after turning in 33.

However, the youngster could not quite maintain that incredible pace on the back nine though his 17-under par total gave him a comfortable victory over home favourite Ahlawat, Swede Söderberg and American Johannes Veerman.

The win in just his 11th start moves Nakajima to 13th in the Race to Dubai Rankings in partnership with Rolex and to the top of the Asian Swing standings.

''It feels amazing. I was a little nervous and I had a tough back nine but I hit some great shots. I want to try and finish on the top ten on this tour and then go to the PGA TOUR in 2025,'' he said.

Nakajima's overnight lead was quickly increased to six as he holed a 15-footer from the fringe on the first and made a smart up-and-down on the par-five fourth to get to 20-under.

He looked to be in trouble on the sixth when his tee-shot found an awkward spot in the rough but a fantastic second left him around 35 feet for birdie and he drained it to open up a seven-shot advantage.

A bogey on the next after finding sand off the tee may have given the field a tiny glimmer of hope but with none of them able to make a big move, an up-and-down for birdie on the par-five eighth put Nakajima nine ahead.

He had bogeyed the 14th in the first three rounds and it haunted him again as he missed the green, went over the putting surface and then failed to get up and down to surrender a double-bogey.

That dropped him back to 19-under and all of a sudden his lead was down to five shots with four to play as Söderberg looked to post a threatening target.

The 33-year-old took advantage of the fourth and birdied the seventh to turn in 34 before holing a ten-footer on the 10th and also birdied the next. The par-five 15th brought another gain and when he left himself a tap-in at the 17th, he was the nearest challenger and two clear of the players in third.

A 20-footer on the 15th had the lead back at six but Nakajima missed the green at the 16th, 17th and 18th to make bogeys, with Söderberg also dropping a shot at the last in his 67.

Veerman birdied the last in his 67, which was bogey-free and also included gains on the third, eighth, 10th and 13th.

French duo Jeong weon Ko and Romain Langasque, Malaysian Gavin Green and Italian Matteo Manassero finished at 12 under, one shot clear of Dane Jeff Winther and two ahead of German Yannik Paul.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Give Feedback