Sports

Rookie Yuvraj Sandhu wins with nail-biting playoff against Wasim Khan

BALBIR SINGH | September 19, 2019 10:37 PM

NOIDA: Chandigarh-based rookie Yuvraj Singh Sandhu registered a nail-biting playoff victory against Delhi’s Wasim Khan at the TATA Steel PGTI Feeder Tour 2019 Presented by Jaypee Greens Wish Town played in Noida. Twenty-two-year-old Yuvraj’s second win of the 2019 TATA Steel PGTI Feeder Tour season extended his lead in the Order of Merit with just one more event remaining in the season.

 Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (62-63-60) matched the tournament’s best score of seven-under-60 in the third round to end up with a total of 16-under-185 in regulation play. Sandhu then prevailed over Wasim Khan (62-61-62) in a fascinating playoff that was decided on the third extra hole. Wasim, who also totaled 16-under-185 for the week, got into the playoff with an unbelievable eagle-birdie finish on the last two holes of regulation play for a round of five-under-62.

 There was a three-way tie for third place at 14-under-187 between Delhi’s Manav Jaini (63), Gurugram’s Abhishek Kuhar (63) and Noida’s Gaurav Pratap Singh (64) at the Rs. 8 lakh event.

 Yuvraj Singh Sandhu, lying fifth and two off the lead after the second round, didn’t really get off to an explosive start in round three as he sank a couple of birdies on the front-nine but also missed a few opportunities on the greens.

 But Yuvraj, who had earlier won the season’s third Feeder Tour event in Karnal, began his title charge with consecutive birdies on the 11th, 12th and 13th. He tapped-in on the 11th thanks to a good wedge shot, produced a brilliant 2-iron tee shot on the par-3 12th to set up a six-footer and then chipped-in on the 13th.

 Another good tee shot on the par-3 6th followed by a fabulous bunker shot on the 17th earned Sandhu two more birdies before he closed the round with a tricky par-save on the 18th.

 Wasim Khan, the joint round two leader, emerged as a strong contender on the final day after he was three-under through the first 11 holes. However, he found the water on the 13th and dropped a stroke. Wasim then staged a remarkable comeback to take the match into a playoff as he sank a 12-feet eagle putt on the 17th and followed that up with a monster 30-feet birdie putt on the 18th.

 In the playoff held on the par-4 18th hole, the deadlock continued on the first two holes. Finally, victory came Yuvraj’s way on the third playoff hole where he played an outstanding bunker shot to save par while Wasim stumbled with a poor second shot from the centre of the fairway that found the water hazard and dashed his title hopes.

 Yuvraj said, “I stuck to my pre-shot routine and my yardage book through the week. I got it going on the back-nine today with those three successive birdies. I played my shot of the day on the 12th, my 2-iron tee shot which ended up six feet from the hole. I’m also very proud of my bunker shot on the third playoff hole that proved to be decisive today. It was a very tough shot with the trees in front and the water hazard in play. I struck it perfectly.

 “It’s been a good season so far. I’m happy with the way I’m progressing, slow and steady. The off-season grind and the little sacrifices that I’ve made to improve my game are paying off. I enjoy being on the professional circuit and now I feel that I belong here.

 “I enjoyed this course a lot as it is quite different from all the other courses that I’ve played as a professional. It is a short, tricky course and is a good test of wedge-play,” added Sandhu, who bagged the winning cheque worth Rs. 1,01,720.

 Yuvraj has now taken his season’s earnings to Rs. 2,82,480 thus stretching his lead in the Feeder Tour Order of Merit to almost Rs. 1 lakh over second-placed Anil Bajrang Mane of Mumbai who has season’s earnings of Rs. 1,82,515. The sixth and last event of the season remains to be played in Lucknow in the first week of October. The 2019 Feeder Tour Order of Merit champion will get an exemption for the PGTI main tour next year.

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