22-year-old Karandeep Kochhar braved a heartbreaking penalty to win the ₹1.5 crore Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational presented by TAKE at his home course of Chandigarh Golf Club after a hard-fought three-hole play-off against seasoned USPGA TOUR player, Anirban Lahiri.
Karandeep finished regulation play seemingly with a one-stroke victory at 12 under par until the Tournament Committee reversed a decision by the Chief Referee, to force Karandeep into a playoff with Anirban Lahiri at 11-under.
The dispute started when Karandeep accidentally moved his ball in the trees on the 17th during the final round. The rules issue centred around the question – did Karandeep intimate the referee that he was searching for his ball when he accidentally moved it?
Although the youngster was clearly extremely upset with the Tournament Committee’s decision, he came back to match Lahiri with a birdie – par on the first two extra holes forcing the playoff to be extended to Monday morning, due to fading light, a first in the 15 years of PGTI’s existence.
When play was called off for the day, Karandeep took to Twitter to share his feelings on the issue and posted – “As a kid, I would brag to my friends who played other sports, that I play a game which is full of integrity and with no politics. What transpired today has made me question the state of that in our country. Irrespective of the result tomorrow, I don’t need a cheque and a trophy to know that I won this tournament fair and square. Hope this never happens to any other player again. I will come out better and stronger.”
However, after holing a 12-foot birdie putt for the playoff win, first thing Monday morning, Karandeep seemed to have come to terms with the penalty and stated he would not be pursuing the issue further.
With the win, Karandeep earned valuable world ranking points and passed Udayan Mane atop the PGTI Order of Merit with the purse of ₹24,24,750 taking his 2020 earnings to ₹33,50,680.
Previously in November, Karandeep had finished 2nd and 1st at the first two PGTI events since lockdown, capturing his earlier title at Chandigarh Golf Club with remarkable scores of 66-68-67-69. to post 18-under-270.
Other notable players in the field at the TAKE event included – Anirban Lahiri (2nd, -11), Aman Raj (T-3rd, -10), SSP Chawrasia (T-13th, -4), Jyoti Randhawa (T-29th, +2) and Gaganjeet Bhullar (T-33rd, +3).