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Vani Kapoor ends three-year title drought, wins 7th leg of WPGT

IANS | March 23, 2023 06:31 PM

GURUGRAM: A little over three years after her last win on the Hero Women's Pro Golf Tour, seasoned Vani Kapoor drilled a crucial birdie on the very last hole to card 3-under 69 and take the lead in the seventh leg of the ongoing season.

That slender edge was good enough as Gaurika Bishnoi, who led for a good part of the day, was unable to find a birdie over the last seven holes and also bogeyed the Par 4 14th.

Vani finished at 2-under 214 for three days and Gaurika (72) ended at 1-under 215 to be second. Ridhima Dilawari, who played alongside Gaurika, too, had a chance as she birdied 16th and 17th. She needed a birdie to force a playoff with Vani, but instead, double-bogeyed the last hole and fell to third place. Ridhima totalled 1-over 217, the Hero WPGT informed in a release on Thursday.

Overnight leader Tvesa Malik (77) ran into rough weather in the final round and was fourth, while amateur Vidhatri Urs (76) and Asmitha Sathish (73) were tied for fifth.

Sneha Singh, who had a disappointing week in tied 21st place, continues to lead the Hero Order of Merit. Vani Kapoor, who won Rs.2, 84, 000 from the season's highest purse of Rs. 23 lakh, moved into third place, while Seher Atwal is second.

Playing in the final group, Gaurika had a chance to force a playoff as she stood on a birdie putt, which, however, was not a straightforward one. The ball went past the hole and Gaurika was left in second place.

Vani Kapoor, who started the day three behind the 36-hole leader Tvesa Malik, had one birdie and one bogey on the front nine. As the lead group of Tvesa, Gaurika and amateur Vidhatri turned into the back nine, Gaurika held the pole position.

Vani turned the tide on the back nine with birdies on the 10th and 12th and then added a vital final one on the 18th.

"It is great to get back to winning, more so on my home course with my family and friends present. I also want to thank everyone here including my coach, Anitya Chand, and my parents, " said Vani, who has been playing mostly on the Ladies European Tour and elsewhere in the past three years.

Gaurika, who started the final day one behind the leader, was unlucky with many of her putts, including the one on the 18th, where she faced a tricky eight-footer.

Gaurika, playing in the final group, did well to come back from a double bogey on Par-5 fourth as she birdied three of the next four holes. But things did not go her way in the closing stages. On one occasion on the 17th, the ball stopped right at the edge of the cup, and she only got a par, where she deserved a birdie.

It was Vani's day, more so on the back nine. She not only birdied three times but also saved a couple of very good pars to snatch a fine win. Ridhima was in the mix till the very end before a double bogey pushed her down the leaderboard.

Overnight leader Tvesa had an early birdie on the third and stretched her lead at the top. However, after that nothing went right for her. She bogeyed fifth, eighth, 11th and 14th and had a double bogey on the par-4 sixth for a 77.

Seher Atwal (73) and Amandeep Drall (73) were sixth and seventh, while Lakhmehar Pardesi, who had seven birdies in her 71, was tied eighth alongside Rhea Jha (75) and amateur Anvvi Dahhiya (77).

Vani, who won her first title on the Hero WPG Tour as an amateur more than 10 years ago, has since won more than 35 titles, most of which have come between 2014 and 2018. Since then, she has been playing a lot outside India in Australian, South African and Ladies European Tours, as she searches for her first pro win on the international circuit.

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