Pathania wins maiden pro golf title

Mumbai: Mandeo Singh Pathania shot an excellent five-under 65 in the final round to clinch the Crompton Greaves Open championship, his first professional crown, at the Bombay Presidency Golf Club course on Saturday.

Pathania, who hails from the Jaypee Greens Golf Resort in Greater Noida, ended the four-day Rs 80-lakh prize money stroke play event with a total score of 14-under 266, and walked home with the winner`s prize of Rs 12.93 lakh.

Veteran Mukesh Kumar from Mhow finished second, three strokes behind the winner and pocketed Rs 8.93 lakh.

Round three leader Vijay Kumar (69-65-65-73) of Lucknow secured third place after returning a one-over 73 on day four. His total read eight-under 272.

Ashok Kumar, Vinod Kumar and Harendra Gupta were joint fourth with matching totals of six-under 274.

Strapping six-footer Pathania`s bogey-free 65 ensured that he also ended the tournament as the sole professional to have shot under par scores in all four rounds.

Pathania (67-66-68-65), who was overnight tied second, made a confident start in his final round with pars on the first eight holes. He fired his first birdie of the day on the ninth through a 30-foot putt.

On the return leg he was the favourite as overnight leader Vijay Kumar had dropped a few strokes while Mukesh Kumar failed to make a charge.

Pathania also picked up the pace with more birdies on the 11th and 12th with brilliant sand-wedge shots that stopped within eight feet of the pin. He went on to birdie the 16th and then sank a 15 feet birdie putt to all but seal it on the 17th.

With the unexpected victory in a strong field, Pathania climbed from 23rd position to sixth place on the Rolex Rankings.

"I just stuck to the basics today and did not look at the leaderboard till I was on the 18th tee. The important thing was that I did not make any bogeys today. I knew I could lose the momentum if I dropped a bogey at any stage. I made sure that didn`t happen," said the winner.

"I made a crucial l30 feet birdie putt on the ninth and then put my foot on the accelerator on the back nine," said Pathania, who has two other top-10 finishes to his credit this year.

"I`ve come close to winning on a few occasions in the past and let it slip. I`m glad I`ve finally crossed the line. I dedicate this win to my father Col. Ravi Pathania who has helped me a lot with my game and encouraged me all along," Pathania said.

Mukesh Kumar (70-67-66-66) carded a second successive 66 to end up runner-up at 11-under 269. He began well with three birdies on the front nine but could not seize the initiative from there on as he made three birdies against two bogeys after the turn.

Final Top 10 scores: Mandeo Singh Pathania 266 (67, 66, 68, 65);Mukesh Kumar 269 (70, 67, 66, 66); Vijay Kumar 272 (69, 65, 65, 65);Vinod Kumar 274 (67, 69, 68, 70); Ashok Kumar 274 (66, 70, 68, 70);Harendra P Gupta 274 (67, 67, 69, 71); Shamim Khan 275 (69, 69, 72,65); Anura Rohana 276 (70, 69, 66, 71); Sujjan Singh 276 (66, 69, 68,73); Rafick Ali Mollah 276 (67, 63, 71, 75); Karanjit Singh Sandhu 278 (63, 69, 70, 76).