Gurgaon: Rahil Gangjee’s fairytale story in Avantha Masters came unstuck over the last five holes and the nervy Indian golfer finished a lowly tied 14th in the USD 2.1 million tri-sanctioned event here today.
Two years after fellow Kolkatan SSP Chowrasia had stunned a star-studded field -? Ernie Els included -- to walk away with the Indian Masters, Gangjee was on the cusp of achieving a similar feat today.
But the hitherto consistent golfer - he had dropped just one bogey in his first three rounds -- developed cold feet towards the end and could not withstand the nerve-wracking drama as he lost four shots over his last five holes to finish with a tournament aggregate of nine-under 279.
Gangjee’s fortune fluctuated at the sun-baked DLF Golf and Country Club today as the Indian grabbed the sole lead midway through his final round, gamely hung onto it for a while and then lost the plot towards the end.
He had a chance to bounce back but the title slipped through his fingers with the three-putt on the 16th hole. The chirpy golfer could not bridge the proverbial gap between the cup and the lip to finish way below his own expectations even though his exploits were enough to earn him Euro 21,600.
A shattered Gangjee, consoled by Arjun Atwal, sneaked away after signing his scorecard, refusing to interact with the waiting media.
Australian Andrew Dodt’s (274) mood was exactly opposite after the 24-year-old Australian fired a four-under 68 to win his maiden European Tour title.
Dodt finished one shot ahead of England’s Richard Finch, with Scot David Drysdale, Japan’s Tetsuji Hiratsuka, England’s Richard Bland and veteran Barry Lane ? who was hoping to become the oldest European Tour winner in history at 49 ? a shot further back on 12-under.
“I’m ecstatic today. It’s a huge moment for me, a dream-come true. I did not do anything different, just went through the routine,” he said.
Impressed by the course, Dodt said, “I loved the course. It was not too long for me but I had to get my strategy right and I think I did a good job. Some putts were really big here.
“First three days, I was not at my best but today I was calm and composed which stood me in good stead,” he explained.
With Gangjee part of the group of seven that went into the final round with a slender lead, the course was abuzz today in anticipation of an Indian fairytale story, which didn’t eventually happen.
Gangjee initially looked his relaxed self, completing the front nine in a businessman-like seriousness. The sixth hole birdie in this bogey-free stretch put him one-under at the turn and things brightened up further on his way back.
The 10th hole birdie then put Gangjee in sole lead, much to the delight of the sparse crowd that had been trailing him under an unforgiving sun.
Gangjee parred the next three holes to stay at top but by then, an ominous looking Richard Finch had completed his dazzling final round of six-under 66 to join him at the top at 13-under.
The crowd had no hint of the impending gloom as Gangjee’s incredible 51-hole bogey-free run in the tournament finally came to an end on the par-five 14th and the local favourite could only watch haplessly as the lead slipped through his fingers.
Gangjee was not in his elements thereafter, signing off with three bogeys on the trot. His shoulders drooped and concentration wavered and he was heard grumbling, realizing things were going beyond his control.
Among other Indians in fray, Jyoti Randhawa (280) signed off with a modest two-under 70 for the tied 18th place, five shots ahead of 38th placed Arjun Atwal, who went one-over 73 today.
Domestic stalwart Ashok Kumar (287) came tied 52nd after carding 70.