Himmat Rai's dream run in the Iskandar Johor Open did not culminate in his maiden Asian Tour title and the 22-year-old Indian golfer finished tied third to pocket a cool Rs 26 lakhs ($55,150) — the biggest cheque of his fledgling career — here on Sunday.
Overnight leader Rai brought home a modest two-under 70 to finish with a 54-hole aggregate of 15-under 201 as KJ Choi (196) orchestrated a sensational late charge to win the title with a sizzling eight-under 64. Burly Thai Chapchai Nirat (200) came second after a sterling 66 in the weather-hit event that was reduced to a 54-hole tournament.
Among the other Indians in fray, Anirban Lahiri's (206) third round of 68 earned him a top-10 finish at ninth, one shot ahead of Rahil Gangjee (tied 15th).
Rising star Gaganjeet Bhullar (210) came tied 24th, four shots ahead of compatriots Ashok Kumar, C. Muniyappa and Jyoti Randhawa who share the 47th place. Digvijay Singh finished tied 56th at 215, one stroke ahead of SSP Chowrasia (62nd).
Himmat had a rather sedate front nine with the third-hole bogey sandwiched between birdies as the golfer took the turn at one-under. On his way back, Himmat birdied the 11th, 14th and 15th but dropped a shot each on the 13th and the final hole to settle for a two-under card and share the third spot with defending champion Retief Goosen. Despite missing his maiden Asian Tour title after coming so close, Rai was not too unhappy since it was his best finish this season. "It feels good and satisfying to know that I played so well. Overall it has been a great tournament for me. Playing with K.J. Choi and the things that I learnt from him is unbelievable," said Rai.
Digboi: Mukesh Kumar romped home with a seven-stroke margin on the final day of the Indian Oil Xtra Premium Masters Golf tournament to defend his title in the quaint surroundings of the Digboi Golf Links, here on Sunday. The professional from Mhow, Madhya Pradesh, signed off with a seven under 65 this day to take his tournament total to 18 under 270. Delhi's Shamim Khan and Feroz Ali Mollah of Kolkata finished tied second with overall scores of 11 under 277.