Trailing Chiragh Kumar by a shot, Anirban Lahiri needed a birdie to force a playoff. The overnight leader had lost a five-shot cushion and his last chance at possible redemption was on the 18th. The putt had the right mix of line and speed, yet it veered off after kissing the cups lip.
Lahiri's two-year reign as BILT Open champion had come to an end. More than missing out on the R16,16,500 cheque, it was about coping with a scenario that’s starting to get associated with his fortunes in a marquee event.
Vikrant Chopra, the other name in contention at Jaypee Greens, also had his share of chances but the inexperience of a big-event final weighed heavy in the end.
The turn of events left Chiragh flummoxed, especially after he finished eight short of Lahiri on Friday. "Given the way Anirban was putting (the reference was to the round of 60 on Day II), I didnt stand a chance," said Chiragh.
The focus on process, the sole birdie on the front-nine was in no way a sign of the upswing that lay in store. More than an arms length separated Chiragh from the two leaders when he made the turn, and at 11-under, the activity at the top was of little interest to him. Saving two shots at the start of the back-nine got the posse of relatives involved in the tussle between Anirban and Vikrant. Despite their vigil, improving on Fridays 72 was all Chiragh was keen on.
It was after he birdied the 15th did Chiragh lend an ear to whispers of he being in contention.