Bengaluru: Neha Tripathi of Kolkata kept her nerve to win a tense battle over amateur Aditi Ashok for the Hero KGA Championships in the opening leg of the Hero Women`s Professional Golf Tour.
Neha, who shot a superb 69 on the final day, caught up with the leader of first two rounds, Aditi, as both golfers totalled 218 for three rounds at the par-72 KGA Golf Course on Friday.
Neha birdied the 18th on the fifth play-off hole to take the title.
Seasoned Smriti Mehra produced the best round of the week at 68, but fell one short of getting into the play-off. She finished tied third with Sharmila Nicollet (70).
With Aditi still an amateur, Neha topped the pro standings and Smriti and Sharmila shared the second place.
"It was very tense. In fact I bogeyed the 18th in regulation play as I went into the water, but I came out with a good bogey," said the 19-year-old Neha, a final year student of St. Xavier`s College in Kolkata.
"I had to wait for about 15 minutes or so to see what happened next. Then came the play-off as Aditi also finished two-over 218," she added.
Thirteen-year-old Aditi came to the 17th tee with a two-shot lead but she had a bogey-bogey finish and ended in a play-off where she lost out.
Neha and Aditi parred the 18th four times in the first four play-off holes.
"I had a four-footer in the first play-off hole, but I missed. Finally on fifth attempt I birdied and Aditi managed a par," said Neha.
"It was almost crazy playing the same hole six times (including once in regulation round) in a row but I tried to maintain my composure."
Neha needed just 23 putts on the final day for her 69 which had five birdies and two bogeys.
"I had three (birdies) in a row from 10th to 12th and I really practiced putting last evening after having 34 putts in second round," she said.
"I was playing with Simi (Mehra) and I just wanted to make sure I stayed focussed and did well."
This was Neha`s second win on the Hero Women`s Pro Golf Tour.
Aditi Ashok, one of the most promising young amateurs in Indian golf, can take heart from a great performance and she was the top amateur at 218 and with rounds of 70, 76 and 72 she can look forward to even greater performances.
Saaniya Sharma, playing with Aditi in the final group, was in contention after two rounds. But she faltered on the final day with an 84 and ended fifth at 231, while Meghna Bal, who is playing her first year as a pro, shot 70 in the final round for a total of 223 and finished fourth.
Ankita Tiwana and Nalini Singh Siwach tied for sixth place.