Kshitij Naveed Kaul, winner, Pune Open Golf championship 2019.(SHANKAR NARAYAN/HT PHOTO)
Kshitij Naveed Kaul, winner, Pune Open Golf championship 2019.(SHANKAR NARAYAN/HT PHOTO)

My short game helped me win the title, says Kshitij Kaul

Kshitij Naveed Kaul played with a great amount of maturity and scored a birdie on the crucial 18th hole
Hindustan Times, Pune | By Jigar Hindocha
UPDATED ON APR 07, 2019 04:36 PM IST

Rookie golfer Kshitij Kaul, 18, scored an impressive victory to earn his first Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) title at the Poona Golf Course on Friday. Kaul, who is playing in his first season of PGTI, played with a great amount of maturity and scored a birdie on the 18th hole to earn the title with the score of 15 under par. The birdie gave him a one point victory over Yashas Chandra who was tied first with Kaul till the 17th hole. Kshitij is a winner of four titles at the amateur level and 40 at the junior level.

On the 18th hole (par 5), what went on in your mind which made you score a birdie and clinch the title?

I was not aware that I was tied as the leader till I took my tee shot at the 18th. While taking the second shot, I knew I had to put in a birdie in order to win the title. Hence, in my third shot, I chipped the ball close to the hole. Then, it was an easy putt for a birdie. The birdie chip-in on the 12th gave me a lot of self-belief. That set the tone for the remaining holes. I wasn’t following the leaderboard and only looked at it after walking onto the 18th green. So I was quite relaxed through the round.

How would you review your play over the four days?

I was not good with my drives as most of the shots were not in the line and sometimes missed the fairways, but my short game was good. I enjoyed playing on the greens. Hence, I strategised that I would concentrate on putting and chipping. My hitting was all over the place on day 4, but I did really well within 100 yards of the green. My chipping and putting got me out of trouble on a number of occasions. I attribute my win to good course management and perfect execution of my plans and strategy. On day one, I incurred a two-shot penalty after hitting some other player’s ball. But I didn’t let that error affect my thought process. I also finished with a flurry of birdies on day 3 that helped my confidence. I think those were two important moments in the week for me.

Did the wind or heat impact your game in any way?

I love the windy condition, so I enjoyed playing here and the heat did not bothered me. I don’t like to play in cold conditions.

Where do you train?

Generally in the winter season, I train under Commander Sake Gangadhar in Hyderabad. He has always taught me to give in my best.

How did the course play on all the four days?

The course was very nice, specially the greens and fairways were really good. The roughs were not that long when I had played here last. The conditions were favourable for play.

How do you view your maiden victory on the PGTI tour?

A win so early in my career is a huge morale-booster. I was encouraged by the presence of my mother and maternal grandfather during the tournament. I dedicate this win to an aunt of mine who passed away last week.

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