Kapur signs off second in a nail-biting finish in China

Foshan City, PTI | Updated : 20 October 2013, 10:58 PM

Indian golfer Shiv Kapur came within a shot of getting into a play-off but then had to settle for a share of the second place in the Foshan Open on the European Challenge Tour on Sunday.

Kapur, fighting to get his card for the 2014 European Tour picked up Euro 20,617, which brought him from 36th to 19th place, but he still needs to do some work to get into the top-15 to earn the card.

Kapur, who won the season's first Challenge Tour event in India, bookended his round with bogeys on the first and 18th but had five other birdies in between in his round of three-under 69.

A nerveless par putt from 12 feet earned Nacho Elvira his first professional title at the Foshan Open and moved him within sight of a place on The European Tour.

Kapur, who was lying fourth at the end of the third round moved from 10-under to 14-under when he came to the 18th tee. He was playing with Tyrell Hatton, who was at 13-under. But in the group pairing behind them -- both Elvira and Sam Walker were at 14-under.

The par-5 18th had yielded a few birdies and Kapur went for a birdie for that would take him to 15-under and set the bar for Elvira and Walker.

Instead the Indian dropped a shot and Elvira parred, while Walker too bogeyed to fall to second.

A closing round of 72 for an aggregate total of 14 under par was enough for Elvira to see off a whole host of challengers, but the bare numbers do not do justice to the drama that unfolded at Foshan Golf Club.

Having come into the inaugural USD 350,000 event in 50th place in the Challenge Tour Rankings, Elvira's chief aim was simply to secure his berth in the 45-man Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final in a fortnight's time; but a radical revision will be needed after the winner's cheque for Euro 41,234 moved the Spaniard into the all-important top 15.

For the latter stages of a fraught final day in Foshan City, where several thousand spectators basked in glorious sunshine, it had looked like a play-off would be needed to determine the winner.

Elvira, who held a three-shot lead overnight, got off to a fine start with a birdie on the second hole but, after a succession of pars, opened the door to his rivals with a bogey at the 15th hole.

That, combined with a 16th hole birdie from his playing partner Sam Walker and a two-birdie burst from Kapur playing in the group ahead, meant the leading trio all teed off on the 18th on 14 under par, with Englishman Tyrrell Hatton one shot behind.

But when Tyrrell's birdie attempt shaved the hole and Kapur, whose tee shot found the bunker, lipped out for par to fall back to 13 under par, the stage was set for a showdown between Elvira and Walker.

When Walker's approach shot came up short of the green and Elvira's flew 50 feet past the hole, both looked in danger of dropping shots and giving Kapur an unlikely reprieve. But once Walker had failed to get up and down from the fringe, Elvira faced a 12-foot putt for victory – and he duly rolled it in with the confidence of a seasoned champion, rather than a first-time winner.

Walker, who signed off with a round of 70 for a 13 under par total, could at least console himself with a cheque for Euro 20,617 which moved the Englishman to 12th place in the Rankings and within touching distance of a return to The European Tour.

His fellow runner-up Hatton (70) virtually guaranteed his place in The 2014 Race to Dubai after climbing to 11th, but there is more work to do for Kapur (69), who is in 19th place. The same goes for England's Phil Archer, who is three places below the Indian after finishing fifth on 11 under par.

First Published: Sunday, October 20, 2013 10:56 PM
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