There was great drama at the end, and that’s the way all tournaments should finish and give the spectators a real taste of top-class golf. There was any number of players in with a chance into the last half hour of the final round of the Hero Honda Indian Open.
But as Rikard Karlberg walked up to the 18th green on the final day, I got the feeling that he had been preparing for this moment for the last four weeks or so.
Watching him, my mind went back to Singapore Open early last month, when I was paired with the Swede in the third round. He had then asked me how the conditions would be in winter in Delhi, where he had played and won in March-April. He said he liked the challenge of the Delhi Golf Club. Obviously, he had been mentally preparing for this course for a while.
Later, he was telling a TV interviewer that DGC is surely his favourite course. Not many players can boast of two wins in two appearances at the same course. That too in the same year.
The cool Swede held his nerve well.
First when he holed a 35-footer and then even when he first went into the rough and then landed in the stands, he stayed unruffled.
Sure, he was 10-under and still two shots ahead — Baek Seuk-Hyun moved from eight-under to 9-under with a birdie on the 18th after that – but in golf nothing can be said till the last ball drops into the cup.
Karlberg then proceeded to give us an amazing finish — a chip-in birdie after he got a free drop. It reminded me of Gaurav Ghei’s famous chip-in for a win back in 1995 at the same course.
The event turned out to be a great tournament once again. Indians had a good finish with five of them in the top-five. Manav Jaini will be disappointed tonight, but he can be proud of what he has done. It would have been nice to see him land his maiden title, but I am sure he will learn a lot from here. If he can put himself in this position time and again, he will surely win soon.
Shiv Kapur kept talking about not landing the putts, but he almost pushed things into a play-off.
I could see him on the 18th green wondering whether or not to go to the warm up range. Karlberg pre-empted all that with a great finish.
Arjun Atwal did give it a go, but there was too much left to do in the end.
Finally, hats off to Karlberg for holding his nerve when it mattered most.