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Jeev loses title on last hole in Indonesian Open

The experienced Indian golfer, who won four times in 2006, landed two eagles during the day but collapsed when it came to the finish, as he bogeyed the 16th and 18th.
By HT Correspondent | IANS, Jakarta
UPDATED ON FEB 17, 2008 06:16 PM IST

Jeev Milkha Singh blew a two-shot lead with three holes to go and virtually handed the Enjoy Jakarta Astro Indonesia Open trophy to rookie Felipe Aguilar of Chile here on Sunday.

The experienced Indian golfer, who won four times in 2006, landed two eagles during the day but collapsed when it came to the finish, as he bogeyed the 16th and 18th. On the 18th needing to hole a par putt from inside four feet to get into play-off, Jeev's putt lipped out for a bogey and that gave Aguilar the title at the par-70 Cengkareng Golf Club.

Jeev (67) finished at 17-under 263 for sole second, his best this season, while Aguilar, who made a great second shot on the 18th and followed it up with a confident birdie putt from five feet, finished with a round of 68 and a total of 18-under 262 for his maiden European Tour win.

Down the line another Indian Jyoti Randhawa burnt up the course with a eight-under 62 and raced up to tied seventh, up from overnight 28th, while Arjun Atwal (67) finished 10th, as Indians had three players in top-10 for the second week running in an event co-sanctioned by Asian and European Tours. Last week at Indian Masters, while S.S.P.Chowrasia was the winner, Digvijay Singh was fourth and Gaurav Ghei sixth.

Gaurav Ghei (69) in tied 40th at six-under 274 and Shiv Kapur (70) in tied 44th at five-under 275 were the other Indian finishers.

Aguilar, who also has a construction company and whose grandfather came from Germany and built numerous golf courses in Chile, had four birdies against two bogeys in his final round. On a course affording a lot of birdies, Aguilar made 20 besides one eagle and gave away just four bogeys, two of them on final day. He picked up Euros 137,833, while second placed Jeev won Euros 91,919.

Jeev had had two eagles, a birdie and two heart-breaking bogeys in last three holes.

It was see-saw battle over the front nine, but after that it looked like Jeev might sewn up the title with an eagle on sixth and a birdie on eighth, at which point he was 17-under and two clear of overnight leader Aguilar and one ahead of James Kamte of South Africa, who had reached first reached 16-under with three birdies in first six holes but dropped a shot on eighth.

The man who seemed to be challenging was Prom Meesawat, who started the day at 13-under but knocked in four birdies between fifth and ninth to tie with Jeev at 17-under.

The ding-dong battle continued as Aguilar ran up birdies on ninth and 10th to catch up with Jeev. On the 11th Aguilar birdied to come to 18-under, but Jeev drove the green on the par-4 hole and then holed a 12-footer for an eagle-two and moved clear in front at 19-under.

Playing alongside the Indian, Aguilar seemed to wilt under pressure with a bogey on 15th at which point Jeev was two ahead with three holes to go. But the Chilean did not give up. Jeev ran into trouble on 16th with a bogey and as the players came to the 18th, Jeev was still one shot ahead.

Driving first Aguilar found the fairway but was lucky to just miss a divot. Jeev drove right into the rough but came out beautifully as his chip from a bad lie on downhill slope came just short of the green. In a situation resembling matchplay, Aguilar putted first from five feet and found dead centre for the birdie transferring the pressure onto Jeev.

The Indian, who was Asia No. 1 in 2006, now needed to hole his par putt from three and a half feet to get into a play-off, like many before him on Sunday, he missed from the right as his putt hit the lip and came out leaving him with a bogey and a frustrated look in second place.

"In this game you can never say what will happen till the ball is in the cup on the 72 nd hole," said Aguilar, who has decided to take three weeks off and go back home to celebrate. "I did not expect him (Jeev) to give away shots in the end. He is a very experienced player and has won many times all over."

James Kamte (67) and Meesawat (67) were tied for third at 16-under.

Randhawa, who did not quite fire on the first three days finally found the rhythm and had birdies on third, fifth and seventh and then holed four more in a row from ninth to 12th to be six-under. A bogey on 13th halted the run, but he closed with two more on last two holes for a great 62 that had nine birdies and one bogey.

Atwal started with a bogey on second, but found three birdies in a row from fourth to sixth and another on ninth. On the back nine, he birdied the 10th and bogeyed the 11th and parred the rest for a 67.

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