Singh wins Panasonic Open to end 12-year title wait

New Delhi: Local favourite Digvijay Singh closed with a flawless six-under-par 66 to end an agonizing 12-year wait for his maiden Asian Tour title at the Panasonic Open India on Sunday.

Singh produced a grandstand finish with a 12-foot birdie putt on the last to defeat Asian Tour winners Mohammad Siddikur of Bangladesh and Gaganjeet Bhullar of India by two shots at the USD 300,000 event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGTI.

Thai veteran Boonchu Ruangkit rolled back the years with a 67 to finish in fourth place while overnight leader Ashok Kumar was in contention before dropping four shots in the last six holes at the Delhi Golf Club. He ended his campaign in tied eighth place.

"This is very special for me. There`s no feeling better than winning an Asian Tour title in India at the Delhi Golf Club. I`ve won on the local circuit before but this takes the cake," said Digvijay, who totalled 11-under-par 277 to win USD 47,500 and two return business Turkish Airlines tickets to any destination in Europe.

Singh, who was three shots back at the start of the day, came charging home with a superb back nine highlighted by birdies on holes 13, 14, 16 and 18 to the delight of the home crowd.

"The 13th hole was the turning point that got me going. I made my second birdie of the day on hole seven and couldn`t convert anything until the birdie on 13. From then on, the birdies starting flowing in," he smiled.

"I wasn`t disheartened when I lost my Asian Tour card last year. I told myself, this is where I`m and I should make the most of it. It was frustrating that everybody has won it except me but I`m glad I`ve done it," added the 40-year-old, who was hugged by his brother-in-law Jyoti Randhawa after sinking his winning putt.

Bhullar, a two-time Asian Tour winner, was in contention for most of the round but had to settle for second as he tipped his hat to Singh, who he said was the deserving winner.

"Digvijay played incredibly. He deserved this long awaited victory. It is all part of the game but I felt I could have done a little better. I`ll accept this finish and go with the flow because I`m playing well again after a long time," said Bhullar, who mixed his card with three birdies against one bogey for a 70.

Siddikur, the first Bangladeshi to play and win on the Asian Tour, rued another missed opportunity of winning his second title as he claimed his 12th top-10 finish on the Asian Tour.

"It is disappointing to come so close on so many occasions. My second victory will come soon enough. I`m very confident of that. I played very well this week so I`ll take that confidence into the following weeks," said Siddikur, who closed with a 68.

The 55-year-old Boonchu, a five-time Asian Tour winner, was delighted with his flawless round highlighted by four birdies on the back nine of the Delhi Golf Club, a venue where he first played on in 1985 as an amateur.

"I am happy with how I played. I found 17 greens today but had a poor putting day. I like this golf course because you have to plan your shots. It is not about blasting off the tees. I`ve always done well here and I feel so comfortable playing here," said Boonchu.