New Delhi: Manav Jaini was crowned champion at the All India Professional Golf Matchplay Championship after he registered an emphatic 5 and 4 victory over title
favourite Ashok Kumar in the final at the Delhi Golf Club on Saturday.
The 36-hole match between the two DGC professionals came to an end on the 32nd hole when Jaini took an unassailable lead of five with four holes left to play.
Jaini, who finished tied third at the Indian Open last year, thus recorded his maiden professional triumph and took home a cheque worth Rs 6,50,000 that helped him climb from 35th position to fourth place on the Rolex Rankings for 2011.
Jaini, the sixth seed, grabbed the early advantage with wins on the first and eighth holes. However, top seed Ashok, a winner of a record 11 titles on the Aircel PGTI, drew level by taking the 10th and 11th.
Jaini`s aggressive hitting put him in the driver`s seat as he won the 12th, 13th and 18th to go three up after the first 18 holes.
Jaini, one of the rising stars of Indian professional golf, built a substantial lead of five when he garnered the first and third holes on the second 18.
Ashok made a desperate effort to catch up with Jaini by bagging the sixth and 12th. However, Jaini went on to seal the title and upset the reigning Rolex Rankings champion by securing wins on the 13th and 14th holes.
"I hit it beautifully off the tee throughout this week. I won most of my matches this week thanks to my tremendous ball-striking. I felt I was in control of the situation from the very outset during the final. While Ashok was a little conservative in his approach on the first 18, I was hitting more aggressive clubs.
"When Ashok pulled out the driver on the first tee of the second 18, I knew I had succeeded in forcing him into changing his strategy. That`s when I felt I had the momentum going and it would be difficult for Ashok to catch up with me," said Jaini, who has three top-10s to his credit on the Asian Tour.
"It`s great to have finally broken the victory barrier after coming extremely close on a few previous occasions. I dedicate this win to my grandfather Mr S L Jaini," he added.
In the playoff for the third and fourth place, DGC`s Chiragh Kumar outclassed Sri Lankan Mithun Perera 6 and 5.