Singapore: Long before lightning and thunder forced two stoppages, Himmat Rai played flawless golf in the third and final round of the truncated Barclays Singapore Open on Sunday to earn the biggest paycheck of his pro career.
As rain stayed away in the early part of the day, Himmat shot five-under 66 to close at eight-under 276 and finish tied 13th for which he picked up USD 86,600.
Earlier Chiragh Kumar (71) finished at four-under 280 and in a tie for 46th place, a drop of 15 places from his overnight position and Rahil Gangjee (71) at three-under 281 was tied for 57th, also a drop of six places.
It was Himmat`s biggest payday, even better than USD 55,150 for the third place finish in 2009 Johor Open or the USD 47,550 he got for winning the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic in September.
It was a deserving reward for the 24-year-old who had made the cut after holing big 20-footer for birdie on the 18th hole on Saturday morning while completing his second round.
Himmat tied for 13th with 2010 US Open winner Graeme McDowell (66), Rikard Karlberg (69), Jbe Kruger (68), Shane Lowry (68) and Richie Ramsay (71).
He finished ahead of Major winners like Ernie Els (68 and tied 23rd), Yang Young-eun (73 and tied 23rd), Phil Mickelson (70 and tied 33rd), Retief Goosen (70 and tied 46th).
"That big birdie on the 18th on Saturday morning to make the cut was a big boost. I knew the cut was going at three-under and I needed that birdie," said Rai of the second round.
"Today I played well, gave myself a lot of opportunities and I sank a lot of birdies. I think I had 12-13 fairways and I missed just one green. I had five birdies and on the par-3 17th, my eighth hole of the day I almost holed out it with a rescue club. It was just perfect," he said.
Rai, who will move up very well on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, added, "I wish we could have played all four rounds, but then I suppose nothing can be done when weather interrupts the tournament.
"I had been mentally preparing myself for the Indian Open and the Singapore Open. I was tied seventh in Indian Open and I wanted to do well here. It is a great golf course and I had missed the cut on my two previous trips here.”
"On the first day, I made some errors like that double bogey on eighth and a triple on 12th at the Tanjong, which actually is an easier course. But I am happy that I stayed calm despite that and carded a 70 on opening day," he added.
Chiragh said, "I am happy with the consistency I showed. I am very happy with the second round in particular when I had a 68 on a tough course. I hit the ball well today, but didn`t hole many putts."
At the top, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano of Spain and the Filipino Juvic Pagunsan went into a play-off after finishing at 14-under with clutch putts of about 12-14 feet on the final hole of a tournament reduced to 54 holes because of weather.
Pagunsan`s putt earned him a birdie. Gonzalo, who had three bogeys between 12th and 15th and saw his lead dwindle from four to just one, saved par despite putting his drive into water. The duo then seemed to have beaten the predicted rain and lightning as they started the play-off.
But no sooner had Pagunsan and Fernandez-Castano hit their tee shots in the first play-off hole, there was a big rumble and threat of lightning forced a suspension.
They came back almost two hours later but hit just one more shot each-- Pagunsan from the fairway and Fernandez-Castano from the bunker -- when there was another roar of thunder.
Lightning, too, returned to force yet another stoppage, which lead to suspension of play for the day. They will be back in the morning at 7.30 am.
The winner gets a million dollars and the second place gets USD 666,660. Regardless of the result, Pagunsan will take over from SSP Chowrasia as the leader in the race for the Order of Merit.