Seasoned Mukesh Kumar brought all his experience to the fore as he fired a second successive six-under 66 in the fourth round to clinch the PGTI Cochin Masters, his first title in two years, at the CIAL Golf and Country Club, here today.
Mukesh finished with a winning total of 14-under-274, two strokes ahead of Rahil Gangjee and defending champion Shubhankar Sharma, to climb from third place to first position in the Rolex Rankings.
The Madhya Pradesh golfer, who was the overnight joint leader, was off the blocks with two tap-in birdies on the first two holes. Mukesh followed up his good start with a 25-feet birdie conversion on the fifth. His only bogey came on the eighth where he found the hazard with his tee shot.
The 49-year-old golfer gathered momentum with two short-range birdie putts on the 10th and 13th. Mukesh then made a crucial chip-in for birdie on the 16th to stay neck and neck with closest competitor Rahil Gangjee.
There was a two-shot swing in favour of Mukesh on the 17th when he landed his tee shot just two feet from the pin for another birdie. Rahil dropped a stroke on the same hole. Mukesh finally marched towards his 16th title on the PGTI with a 12-feet conversion for par on the 18th after recovering well from the bushes.
“I’m delighted to finally win an event after two years. I last won at Chandigarh in February 2013. I came close on several occasions since then but could not finish it. In fact, I finished runner-up in the first two events of 2015 and then missed the cut in Hyderabad last week. This is my biggest win in terms of prize money,” said Mukesh, who took home the winner’s cheque of Rs. 8,25,000.
“It’s also a highly satisfying victory because the field was very strong with the likes of Gaganjeet Bhullar, Rahil Gangjee and Chikkarangappa participating. I needed this win to prove to myself that I can still compete with the best in India and give the youngsters a run for their money.”
Khalin Joshi of Bangalore and Sri Lankan Anura Rohana secured tied fourth place at nine-under-279, while Chikkarangappa, another Bangalorean, was a further two shots behind in sixth place.
Gaganjeet Bhullar shot a final round of eight-over-80 to be tied 19th at one-over-289.