Russel Tour: Anirban registers four-shot win

Kolkata, Dec 30 : Anirban Lahiri of Bangalore took top honours at the Rs. 1.35 crore McLeod Russel Tour Championship after registering an impressive four-shot victory at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) on Sunday.

Lahiri came up with a three-under-69 in the final round of the PGTI's year-ending event to end the week with a total of 17-under-271. Kolkata's Rahil Gangjee finished runner-up at 13-under-275.

Anirban Lahiri (66-71-65-69), the overnight leader by three strokes, had an early hiccup in the final round as he double-bogeyed the second after his second shot reflected off a water sprinkler.

The 26-year-old then got into his stride with birdies on the fourth, fifth, ninth, 12th, 16th and 17th to wrap up his 13th professional title in style. Lahiri's putter was on fire as he sank birdie putts from 15 to 20 feet on the fifth, ninth, 16th and 17th.

He also landed his approach within two feet for a tap-in birdie on the 12th. Anirban's only error on the back-nine was the bogey on the closing 18th.

Lahiri said, "I'm really delighted with my first win at the RCGC. I've been coming here since I was 11-years-old but was never able to win a title before. The double-bogey early on made me focus better as it shook me up.

"I focussed really well thereafter and holed almost everything on the greens. The birdie on the ninth was the turning point of the day as it increased my lead from one shot to three shots since Rahil bogeyed the same hole. The birdie on the 12th was crucial as well as it helped me further expand my lead to five shots.

"The 2013 season has been my most consistent season so far as I won four titles this year. My golf and my physical conditioning improved by leaps and bounds this year. The win today gives me a further boost for the coming season," added Lahiri on Sunday, who took home a cheque worth Rs. 21,39,750.

Rahil Gangjee (70-68-68-69) had an eventful front-nine where he made five birdies and three bogeys. He had a relatively quieter back-nine with two birdies and a bogey.

Gangjee was a threat to Lahiri in the initial stages of the round as he made some long putts on the first, second and fifth. However, bogeys on the eighth, ninth and 12th pulled him back and he ended up with a three-under-69 for the day.

Gangjee said, "It looked like I would shoot a six-under when I began the round but I'm glad that I gave it my best and at least shot a three-under. Nonetheless, was great to perform well in front of my home crowd. It was an emotional moment for me as I was missing my father who passed away recently. He used to follow me when I played events at the RCGC."

Abhinav Lohan of Faridabad and Delhi's Chiragh Kumar finished tied third at 10-under-278. Jyoti Randhawa was a further shot behind in fifth place.

Delhi's Rashid Khan earned sixth place at eigh-under-280 and thus ended up in number one position on the Rolex Rankings to emerge as the Rolex Player of the Year for 2013.

Gaganjeet Bhullar and Chikkarangappa of Bangalore were in tied eighth at six-under-282. Chikkarangappa, as a result, claimed second position on the Rolex Rankings and also won the Emerging Player of the Year title.

SSP Chowrasia of Kolkata finished in 17th place with a total score of two-under-286.

Rashid Khan wins Rolex Player of the Year Award

Rashid Khan of Delhi claimed number one position on the 2013 Rolex Rankings after finishing sixth at the McLeod Russel Tour Championship.

Rashid's total earnings for the 2013 season were Rs. 46,38,284. He thus sealed the Rolex Player of the Year title. Rashid, the Rolex Rankings runner-up last year, posted 10 top-10s in 2013 which included two wins.

Rashid said, "It's been a highly satisfying year for me. I won two events and was in contention in a number of events. Importantly, I've improved on last year when I finished second in the rankings. This is a huge boost for me as I'll be playing as a full-card holder on the Asian Tour next year."

Chikkarangappa S of Bangalore was second on the Rolex Rankings with earnings of Rs. 32,65,313 post his tied eighth place finish at the McLeod Russel Tour Championship.

Chikkarangappa, who had one win and nine other top-10s in the season, also won the Emerging Player of the Year race as he recorded the maximum earnings among all the rookies in the 2013 season.

Chikka said, "When I began the year my target was a top-10 finish on the Rolex Rankings. But as the year progressed, I thought I had a realistic chance of finishing in the top-3 for the season. I'm delighted that I managed to finish second on the rankings and win the Emerging Player race as well.

"The rookies were very strong this year and coming out on top among the rookies is special. My putting was the highlight of the season. I really started putting well midway through the year when I started using a new putter."

Angad Cheema of Panchkula ended up in second position in the Emerging Player of the Year race with earnings of Rs. 26,50,448.

--IBNS (Posted on 30-12-2013)

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