Team Asia dominated the Hero Skills Challenge, the annual prelude to the main action at the US$ 1.75 million Hero Indian Open, defeating a star-studded Rest of the World 3-1. Team Asia earned US$ 7,500 for their heroics, while Rest of the World had to settle for US$ 2,500.
Minutes after receiving their winning cheques from Hero MotoCorp Chairman, Managing Director and CEO, Pawan Munjal, both teams in a heart-warming gesture, decided to donate their winnings to charity. That gesture elicited even greater applause than their golfing skills.
Led by Shiv Kapur and comprising Anirban Lahiri, Shiv Shankar Prasad Chawrasia and Korea’s Jeunghun Wang, Asia clinched the deal by winning the first three of the four skills against Thomas Bjørn’s team of PGA Tour star Emiliano Grillo, Andrew Johnston and Chris Wood. Then, Wood was the closest with his long putt to ensure the Rest of World team did not return empty-handed.
Lahiri’s radar-like effort from the tee came to rest 16 feet 4 inches from the pin situated 280 yards away to beat Johnston’s best of 38 feet in the opening ‘Most Accurate Off the Tee’.
The next skill was ‘Hit the Bike’ – an 80-yard pitching wedge shot to the Hero bike floating in the centre of the lake adjoining the ninth green. Kapur contributed four points as Asia tallied eight from their 12 shots, while Rest of Asia could not capitalise on Wood’s four points as the others contributed just one to lose 8-5.
It was then time for ‘Blast from the Bunker’ – where the genius of short-game maestro Chawrasia helped Team Asia clinch the title even before the final skill was played.
The two-time defending Hero Indian Open champion hit a fantastic shot to 8 inches, which was the best by any player.
The six-foot-six inch tall Wood ensured a consolation win for Rest of the World in the ‘Long Putt’ – rolling his putt from 50 feet across two slopes on the green to 10 inches.
It was a close affair and Chawrasia almost managed to better the mark, but his putt came to rest 11 inches from the cup.
(Read ‘Hero Indian Open 2018’ preview in the March issue of Golf Digest India. Download here.)