Panchkula: Chandigarh golfer Jairaj Singh Sandhu’s consistency through the week paid off as he clinched his maiden title at the INR 1 crore Haryana Open 2023 presented by Wonder Cement played at the Panchkula Golf Club.
Jairaj (66-69-68-67), who was in the lead on the first two days before slipping to second place on day three, produced a flawless five-under 67 on Saturday before finally prevailing in a playoff to weather the storm called Honey Baisoya (68-70-66-66), who on his part shot the last day’s best score of six-under 66.
Jairaj and seven-time winner Honey headed to the playoff after both players were tied at the top at a total of 18-under 270 at the end of the regulation 72 holes.
The tall and lanky left-hander Sandhu sank a five-footer for victory on the playoff hole to pick up a cheque worth INR 15 lakh that lifted him 31 spots from 44th to 13th position in the TATA Steel PGTI Ranking.
Jairaj thus became the fifth first-time winner on the PGTI this season, the other four being Sachin Baisoya, Karan Pratap Singh, Sunhit Bishnoi and Harshjeet Singh Sethie.
Round three leader Akshay Sharma, another Chandigarh-based professional, took the third spot at 16-under 272 following his fourth round of 71.
The other Tricity golfers to finish inside the top-10 were Yuvraj Singh Sandhu in tied fourth at 15-under 273 and Angad Cheema in tied sixth at 12-under 276.
Jairaj Singh Sandhu, lying two shots off the lead in second place at the start of round four, made an early birdie on the second and followed that up with a couple of 25 to 30 feet conversions and a good up and down to add three more birdies on the front-nine. Sandhu made another quality up and down for his last birdie of the day on the 15th.
Honey Baisoya of the DLF Golf & Country Club, Gurugram, who sat in tied third, three off the lead, at the start of the day, made a charge on the front-nine on Saturday by scoring five birdies. Honey then dropped a double-bogey on the 11th but roared back with an eagle on the 12th and birdies on the 16th and 17th. Just when Baisoya was staring at victory he made a three-putt for bogey on the 18th. With Jairaj’s par on the 18th, the match went into a playoff.
On the playoff hole (18th), Jairaj closed out the match with another steady par making a two-putt from 25 feet even as Honey made a second consecutive three-putt.
Twenty-six-year-old Jairaj Singh Sandhu, said, “Importantly, this week I achieved all the three goals that I had set for myself this season. I played in the leader group, shot a bogey-free round and won my first title. I hung in there through the week. I was in the top two positions from round one to four and maintained the consistency in my game.
“There was a sense of relief after sinking the winning putt. Even while going into the playoff, I believed I could do it and backed my ability. I just played my normal game as I knew I was playing well. I took it one shot at a time and focused on my routine.
“It feels amazing to win in the presence of my family and friends here at Panchkula Golf Club which is like a second home course. It’s an overwhelming feeling and can’t be described. I would like to thank my coach Jesse Grewal with whom I’ve been working very hard in the range. I would also like to thank my fitness trainer, physio, my parents and friends for their support.”
Abhishek Kumar of Panchkula won the trophy for the best performing amateur. Abhishek, one of the two amateurs to make the cut, finished the week in 51st place with a total of eight-over 296.
270: Jairaj Singh Sandhu (66-69-68-67) Winner in Playoff; Honey Baisoya (68-70-66-66)
272: Akshay Sharma (68-68-65-71)
273: Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (71-68-67-67); Sachin Baisoya (68-69-68-68)