Atwal dethrones Hedblom to regain Malaysian Open
India’s ace golfer Arjun Atwal dethroned defending champion Sweden’s Peter Hedblom in a playoff to reclaim the $2 million Maybank Malaysian Open, jointly sanctioned by European & Asian Tour, in Kuala Lumpur. Atwal thus became the first Indian to win three titles on the European Tour.
Atwal, the 2003 Malaysian Open champion, converted a four feet putt for par on the second playoff hole (par three 17th) to lift the trophy and put an end to his title drought. Atwal and Hedblom went nose to nose in a playoff after the two completed 72 holes as the joint leaders with identical scores of eighteen under 270.
Besides this victory, Atwal also became the second PGTI member after SSP Chowrasia (Emaar-MGF Indian Masters champion) to win a European Tour event in 2008. PGTI member Jyoti Randhawa finished three strokes behind Atwal in tied sixth place.
Atwal backed up his previous scores of 70, 68 and 68 with a fabulous 64 on Sunday. The Kolkata golfer’s round was the best of the day. He rapidly climbed from overnight tied 11th as he started with birdies on the first and second.
Even though he dropped a bogey on the third, there was no looking back as Atwal seemed to pick up birdies at will from there on. He birdied the fourth, sixth, seventh, 10th, 11th, 15th and 18th to end up with a magnificent 64.
On the other hand, Hedblom (66, 68, 65, 71) who took on Atwal in the playoff to defend his title, looked down and out when he found the water on the first playoff hole (par five 18th). However, the defending champion recovered to save par.
Atwal also made par on the first playoff hole. The sudden death playoff then shifted to the par three 17th. Hedblom bogeyed the 17th as a result of missing a short putt. Atwal on the other hand, held his nerve and made a four feet putt to romp home with the trophy.
“It was one of those days when everything went my way. This victory is really big for me and I am so happy that I cannot explain it in words,” said an elated Atwal after his long-awaited triumph.
PGTI, Tour Commissioner, Ajai Gupta, lauded Atwal’s performance saying, “It was a very well-deserved victory for Arjun. He has been close to winning a title for quite some time now and his perseverance has finally paid-off.”
“This is turning out to be a fantastic year for Indian golf as PGTI members are performing exceedingly well on the international stage. Besides SSP Chowrasia and Arjun Atwal’s wins on the European Tour, Jyoti Randhawa, Jeev Milkha Singh, Shiv Kapur, Gaurav Ghei and Digvijay Singh have also produced some great performances at the international level,” he added.
The Maybank Malaysian Open title is Atwal’s third on the European Tour. His previous two victories on the European Tour came in the 2002 Caltex Singapore Masters (first win by an Indian on the European Tour) and the 2003 Carlsberg Malaysian Open. So this was also his second success at the Malaysian Open, which he had previously won at the Mines Resort course in Kuala Lumpur five years back.
The year 2008 is turning out to be a memorable one for Atwal. He has already posted two other top 10s in the year. These were joint runners-up on the Nationwide Tour’s Movistar Panama Championship and tied 10th at the Enjoy Jakarta Astro Indonesia Open.
The six-time winner on the Asian Tour also secured tied 15th place at the Emaar-MGF Indian Masters and tied 17th place at the Johnnie Walker Classic. Another title contender Jyoti Randhawa posted his fifth top 10 finish of 2008 when he secured tied sixth position at the Kota Permai golf course. Randhawa carded scores of 67, 65, 70 and 71 to total fifteen under 273 for the week.
The reigning Indian Open champion was even par at the turn after he made birdies on the fourth and seventh and bogeys on the first and fifth. He then put together a solid back nine with eight pars and a birdie on the 12th to round off his week with a 71.
PGTI member Gaurav Ghei (67, 71, 72, 70) finished tied 37th at eight under 280. Ghei’s effort of two under 70 on Sunday included birdies on the second, fifth, seventh, 12th and 18th and bogeys on the first, 14th and 15th.
PGTI member SSP Chowrasia (66, 73, 69, 74) ended the tournament with an overall score of six under 282. Chowrasia, currently second on the UBS Asian Tour Order of Merit for 2008, fell from overnight tied 23rd to tied 46th place as a result of his final round 74.
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