New Delhi: Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri's purple patch continued as he clinched the Hero Indian Open after a thrilling fight at the play-off with overnight leader SSP Chowrasia on a pulsating day at the prestigious Delhi Golf Club here on Sunday.
With overnight leader Chowrasia returning with five-over 76, Lahiri, who was seven strokes behind the Kolkata golfer after the third round, carded two-under 69 in regulation to go into the play-off after a roller-coaster day which saw fortunes fluctuating too often.
In the play-off, Lahiri, the top-ranked golfer in the field, didn't put a foot wrong as he fired a birdie in the 18th hole after Chowrasia failed to recover from a disappointing tee shot.
World no 39 Lahiri thus won his second European Tour title in three weeks. He had won the Maybank Malaysian Open earlier this month.
"It is incredible. Starting today, I didn't think I had a chance. It was one of the toughest days ever where I've played at Delhi Golf Club. This has been a childhood dream so it is very special to keep the Indian Open trophy at home. The way Siddikur and Chowrasia have been playing, it was hard to catch them," Lahiri said.
"Personally I wanted to play well and give myself a chance on the back nine. It was an important week for me. The leaders had a tough break and I feel lucky and fortunate.
"I didn't know how the leader group was playing. It was only until the ninth green when I saw that I was one shot back. When I made the turn, I was two back. It has happened here before. The fact that I've been in similar situation on this golf course before really helped me.
"Honestly, it is hard to come to terms. Six months back, I was at Qualifying School so it feels like I've skipped a couple of steps to where I'm now," he added.
The tricky DGC bared its pangs on the final day as overnight leader Chowrasia stumbled on a bogey and double bogey to allow Siddikur Rahman, who was behind the Indian by two strokes, lead the course after four holes early in the day.
Lahiri, meanwhile, turned on the heat and blasted birdies at the first, second and fifth to total nine-under, same as Chowrasia, after five holes.
Chowrasia earned his place at the top back when he picked his first birdie of the day at the eighth hole to lie nine-under along with Siddikur.
At the turn, Lahiri slipped after he dropped a shot on the ninth.
The script became more interesting when Siddikur dropped a bogey at the sixth and Chowrasia lost another stroke at the seventh, which pushed the Kolkata golfer at no 4, while Lahiri and Daniel Chopra took the tied second spot at nine-under.
The back nine was a rollercoaster ride as Lahiri found himself just two strokes behind after the front nine. The difference further reduced when Chowrasia dropped a bogey at the 12th but he picked up a birdie at the 15th hole.
It was the 16th hole which changed the complexion of the match as Chowrasia and Lahiri found themselves at seven-under, courtesy a bogey and birdie by the former and later respectively. The duo then parred to next two holes to go into the play-off.
Meanwhile, Siddikur's hopes went up in smoke when he dropped five shots, including a hat-trick of bogeys, in six holes from 10th to 16th to slip out of the competition.
The play-off brought back memories of the Panasonic Open when Chowrasia had beaten Rahil Gangjee and Mithun Perera in the play-off in November last year.
Lahiri became the first Indian to win the tournament after 2009 when C Muniyappa had lifted the trophy at the DGC here.