Mukesh Kumar fired a steady one-over 71 on Saturday to record a creditable win at the PGTI-125th Year Madras Gymkhana Club Tamil Nadu Open golf.
The 44-year-old from Mhow bagged his third Aircel PGTI title of the year, having totaled 13 under 267 for the week. This was also Mukesh's seventh title win on the Aircel PGTI as he had four wins in the last season. He now has the record for the maximum number of wins on the tour.
Lucknow's Vijay Kumar finished second at 11-under 269 while Shamim Khan and Digvijay Singh shared third place at eight-under 272.
Mukesh Kumar (65, 65, 66, 71) began his title defence in conservative fashion as his putting form seemed to desert him on the front nine. He made pars on the first eight holes and then missed a two-footer to bogey the ninth. The PGTI Order of Merit champion from 2007-08 went two over for the day when he missed a five feet putt on the 11th to drop yet another bogey.
Even as Vijay caught up with Mukesh on the 14th, the defending champion hung in there and turned the match in his favour with a six feet birdie putt on the 15th. Mukesh had a good par save on the 17th which sealed the title for him. On the 17th, he recovered well from the bunker and made a tricky four feet downhill putt for par.
"It's great to win my third event of the year. I'm glad that I came through despite struggling with my putting today. When Vijay and I were on level terms after the 14th, I knew anything could happen since Vijay was putting really well. But the 15th turned out to be the decisive hole as I made a very good birdie from six feet and Vijay dropped a bogey on the same hole," said Mukesh.
Mukesh stays second on the Aircel PGTI Order of Merit after his win in Chennai but the difference between him and Order of Merit leader Gaganjeet Bhullar has been reduced to Rs. 1.14 lakh.
Vijay (68, 68, 67, 66) birdied the third, sixth, eighth and bogeyed the fourth and fifth to make the turn at one under. He then made a charge on the back nine, firing four consecutive birdies from the 11th to the 14th. Vijay sank some long putts on this stretch and became the joint leader along with Mukesh at 12-under after the 14th.
Vijay's title hopes were dashed on the 15th, where he found the rough and had to take a penalty drop that resulted in a bogey. Vijay has now climbed from fourth to third on the Aircel PGTI Order of Merit.
Pradyumna Prakash of Chennai won the amateur title as he finished with the best amateur score of 11 over 291. He was 48th in the overall standings.