Seasoned golfer Mukesh Kumar produced a spectacular and error-free last round of seven-under-65 to win the TATA Steel PGTI Players Championship here Friday.
The 53-year-old from Mhow won by one shot with a total of 15-under-273 at Panchkula Golf Club.
The old warhorse Mukesh (70-67-71-65), who has over 100 titles to his credit in a 35-year-long career, claimed a record 20th title on the TATA Steel PGTI and thus ended a two-year winless streak.
The former Asian Tour winner had secured his last victory at the PGTI Cochin Masters in Kochi in April 2017. It was also Mukesh’s first triumph at the Panchkula Golf Club. His winning cheque worth Rs 4,84,950 lifted him from 11th to fourth place in the PGTI Order of Merit.
Panchkula’s Angad Cheema (67-67-75-65), who was playing at his home course, delivered an equally impressive 65 in round four to finish runner-up at 14-under-274.
Delhi-based teenager Kshitij Naveed Kaul, a recent winner on the PGTI, fired the tournament’s best round of 64 on Friday to clinch third place at 12-under-276.
Mukesh, lying overnight tied third and two off the lead, was in the ascendancy from the start as he scored early birdies on the second, third and fifth courtesy some top-class wedge-play and overtook overnight leader Yashas Chandra of Mysuru.
Mukesh, who was playing to a plan of backing his strengths and executing it to perfection, began to truly stamp his authority when he holed his third shot from 100 yards for an eagle on the par-5 seventh. He was then relentless on the back-nine playing two more brilliant wedge shots to set up birdies on the 11th and 15th.
“I planned my round really well today and played within my limitations. I knew I had to be accurate since I don’t have as much distance as the youngsters I was competing with,” said Mukesh.
“My iron-play was exceptional today and holing out from 100 yards for eagle on the seventh was a huge morale-booster. The birdie on the 15th was the turning point for me as it gave me a comfortable two-shot cushion over Angad Cheema with just three holes to play. I made as many as 17 greens in regulation. It’s great to be back among the winners after two years. It’s special to win in Panchkula for the first time and that too in such tough conditions.