Young Indian golfer Khalin Joshi produced a scintillating back-nine performance to steal the title of the Panasonic Open India from Bangladesh's Siddikur Rahman in a thrilling finish at the Delhi Golf Club yesterday.
The 26-year-old Bangalore native fired four birdies in the final five holes to beat two-time Asian Tour winner Siddikur by a single stroke. Joshi, who fired a magnificent eight-under in the third round, wrapped up the victory with a four-under yesterday while Siddikur, a winner at the Delhi Golf Club five years ago, had to be content with a second-place finish yet again.
Siddikur finished at 16-under-par (272) while Joshi ended with 17-under-par (271). India's Ajeetesh Sandhu and Suradit Yongcharoenchai of Thailand grabbed a share of the third position at 273.
This was Siddikur's third second-place finish at this course and he now has seven top-10 finishes in other Asian Tour events there.
The final round went down to the wire as Siddikur held a one-shot lead going into the back nine, after two birdies on the front nine. Siddikur bogeyed the 13th hole but bounced back with a birdie the following hole. By that time Joshi had kicked into top gear and caught up with Siddikur with a birdie on the 15th hole. Both golfers birdied the 17th hole to take it to the final hole, where Joshi converted an eight-feet birdie while Siddikur missed from 10 yards.
While the premier Bangladeshi golfer must be ruing the fact that he failed to capitalise on a strong showing to end his five-year draught on Asia's premier tour, he will be relieved that the good showing lifted him to within the top 60 in the order of merit, which will be enough for him to retain his tour card for next season.
The top 60 players at the end of the season retain cards for the following season, and Siddikur was precariously placed at 97th position at the start of this 400,000-dollar event. But his second-place finish earned him a paycheque of 44,000 dollars, lifting him to 53rd position. With even modest showings in the couple of remaining events this season, Siddikur should be well placed for next season's challenge.
The 33-year-old from Kurmitola, who topped the leaderboard for two rounds before slipping out at the final moment, was not disappointed with the result.
"I am very happy with my result and I am proud of myself that I was able to put up a good fight for the title," Siddikur said. "I have been trying to get the win to get my card for next year. It's been on the back of my mind. Although I didn't win, I put myself in a better position to finish inside the top-60 on the Habitat for Humanity Standings now."