Nervy Jaini lets it slip, Karlberg lifts Indian Open

New Delhi: Manav Jaini came tantalizingly close to the biggest professional win of his career but nerves got the better of him in the end as the Hero Honda Indian Open had a non-Indian winner in Sweden`s Rikard Karlberg after a dramatic final round on Sunday.

In the end, Karlberg (70) clinched it by two strokes with a total of 11-under 277 but it was a day filled with drama.

Jaini, who does not even have a PGTI title under his belt, was either in joint or sole lead till back-to-backbogeys on the 16th and 17th spoilt his card of 70 and left his overall total at eight-under 280 for a tied third finish in the USD 1.25 million Asian Tour event here.

Overnight tied third, Jaini made a perfect start to the day by striking as many as five birdies in a blemish-free front-nine, which included a hat-trick from the first to third hole. But he undid the good work in a poor back-nine which was marred by three bogeys.

Karlberg`s second Asian Tour title triumph this year was in fact largely a result of Jaini`s slide.

The 24-year-old Swede, who earned his Tour card through the Qualifying School this year, played out a topsy-turvy front-nine, which included three birdies against a couple of bogeys.

Karlberg, who won the SAIL Open here earlier this year, and Jaini were joint leaders at 10-under overall till the 13th hole before a disastrous tee shot on the 14th ended up in a bogey for the Swede.

Karlberg`s drive landed straight into the bushes that line up the treacherous DGC and he knew it the moment he struck the shot, throwing his club in disgust.

He could well have dropped a couple of strokes given the distance he had to clear to bring the ball back into the greens but Karlberg kept his cool to settle for a bogey.

Jaini got the much-needed breathing space due to Karlberg`s evident lapse of concentration but he let it slip by dropping consecutive bogeys on the 16th and 17th.

Overnight leader Baek Suek-hyun (73) of Korea was also a part of the leading pack for a while after striking an eagle on the 14th but he too fell out of contention after a bogey on the 16th. Baek eventually finished second with a total of 279.

As Baek and Jaini slid, Karlberg rose with birdies on the 17th and 18th to establish a two-stroke lead and be firmly assured of the biggest prize cheque of his career ? a whopping USD 198,125.

Among other Indians in fray, Shiv Kapur also signed off tied third after returning his best card of the week - a five-under 67.

"Today was a really good day and it is a shame we could not fight for the win. My putting has not been as good as it should have been over the first few rounds but I am really happy with today`s performance," Kapur said.

"I had a really good chance to win on Sunday but it did not happen and I will be back next year to try again. I really enjoy playing here and the crowd support has been fantastic as well," Kapur added.

A stroke adrift, top draw Arjun Atwal signed a steady three-under 69 to end tied fifth along with Mukesh Kumar (71) and Ashok Kumar (69).

It was a disappointing finish for three-time champion Jyoti Randhawa, who returned a 72 to be tied 17th with a total of 284.

The 19-year-old Rashid Khan completed a decent professional debut, breaking par for the first time this week for a two-under 70 that took his total to four-over 292 and fetched him a share of the 42nd position.


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