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Om Prakash Chouhan secures fourth title of the season

BALBIR SINGH | December 11, 2023 06:33 AM

Chouhan first to cross INR 1 crore in season’s earnings on PGTI, extends lead in TATA Steel PGTI Ranking; Varun Chopra takes the runner-up spot 

KOLKATA:  Om Prakash Chouhan brought all his experience to the fore by displaying nerves of steel and prevailing in a close finish to secure his 11th career title and fourth of the 2023 season at the INR 1 crore SSP Chawrasia Invitational 2023 presented by TAKE Sports played at the historic Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC).

Om Prakash Chouhan (70-69-70-73), the overnight leader by four shots, was not at his best on Sunday as he shot a one-over 73 but closed out the match in style with a last hole birdie to triumph by one shot at a total of six-under 282.

American rookie Varun Chopra (73-72-69-69) took the runner-up spot at five-under 283 after shooting the day’s joint lowest score of 69.

The 37-year-old ‘OP’, as Om Prakash is popularly known, walked away with the winning cheque worth INR 15 lakh that saw him become the first player to cross the INR 1 crore barrier in season’s earnings on the PGTI.

OP, who originally hails from Mhow in Madhya Pradesh but is now attached with the Kalhaar Blues and Greens golf course in Ahmedabad, also further extended his lead in the TATA Steel PGTI Ranking as his season’s earnings moved to INR 1, 13, 80, 559 giving him a lead of more than INR 39 lakh over second-placed Karan Pratap Singh.

Om Prakash, who has stamped his authority through the season, began his day with a birdie on the first hole but then lost his way with four bogeys over the next 13 holes as he struggled with his putting, missing a few putts from short range and thereby conceding a one-shot lead to 24-year-old Varun Chopra.

However, OP made a final push with a gallant effort on the closing stretch as he sank a 10-footer for birdie on the 15th and followed that up with a great chip-putt and another crucial 10-feet conversion for par on the 17th. Chouhan finally wrapped it up with a terrific approach shot on the 18th that landed four feet from the flag and set up the winning birdie for him.

OP said, “I normally play attacking golf but today I played a little conservatively to begin with. I wasn’t happy about that approach and about taking the match to the last hole despite having a comfortable overnight lead. But I’m delighted that I came through in the high-pressure situation at the end when it mattered the most. Having closed out a few matches earlier in the year, I had that quiet confidence that I can do it again.

“I was struggling with my driver on the front-nine so I decided not to use the driver on the back-nine and instead use the 3-wood and rescue clubs. That change in strategy paid off. I putted well through the week except for the last day and made most of the 10 to 15 footers. The crucial chip-putt for par on the 17th was the highlight of my round today as it gave me the self-belief going into the last hole.

“I feel I was thinking a bit too much about the Order of Merit race at one stage, but when I visited Ahmedabad recently, I was told by my friends to focus on my game rather than think too far ahead. That advice really helped me settle down and reassess my goals.”

US-based Varun Chopra bagged his second runner-up finish of the year and a cheque worth INR 10 lakh that moved him up from 31st to 16th position in the Order of Merit. Varun, who hit all the fairways on Sunday, picked up six birdies in exchange for two bogeys on the first 11 holes to draw level with Chouhan for the lead. Chopra, who briefly took the lead, ended the day in second place after he missed a short putt to drop bogey on the 14th and then missed the all-important 10-feet birdie conversion on the 18th.

Angad Cheema’s (70) consistent season continued as he finished third at four-under 284 and thus climbed two spots to ninth place in the money list.

Udayan Mane and Rashid Khan claimed tied fourth place at two-under 286.

 Final Leaderboard:

282: Om Prakash Chouhan (70-69-70-73)

283: Varun Chopra (73-72-69-69)

284: Angad Cheema (75-67-72-70)

286: Udayan Mane (73-68-73-72); Rashid Khan (75-70-69-72).

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