31-year-old Asian Tour winner and home favourite Ajeetesh Sandhu outlasted Rashid Khan in a playoff lasting four extra holes to win his fourth title on the PGTI TOUR at the 1.5 crores Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational at Chandigarh Golf Club on October 20. After the two tied at 20-under par 268 for 72 holes of regulation play. LocalKarandeep Kochhar — finished third with 17-under 271.
Chandigarh showed why it remains a top source for producing excellent players, with their superior facilities and the huge crowd of junior golfers from nearby schools making their presence felt supporting their local hero. Sandhu received great support from his home club, with everyone angling for the best spot near the tee-box and on the greens, sometimes even pushing each other to see him. Sandhu had fans cheering him when he made birdies and looked concerned when he missed his putts.
“I’ve been playing some great golf in recent weeks and this is a good culmination to that. The long birdie conversions on the 14th and 17th played a part in getting me within striking distance of the title.”
The final hole saw Rashid shooting way right and out of the fairway, whereas Sandhu was comfortably on it. Later, Khan made a bogey and Sandhu made par to finish at 6-under 66 and a matching 20-under 268 for the tournament — leading to a playoff, which extended for four extra holes.
On the fourth extra hole, Rashid Khan went on to miss the green and landed in the water hazard, whereas Sandhu kept his cool and placed it within 20 ft. for a comfortable par and a win to cherish!
Sandhu’s last win on the PGTI Tour came at the 2017 Golconda Masters and his Asian Tour win came in October 2017 at the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship, making this his fourth PGTI win and his career sixth, overall.
Sandhu, who is always in control of his emotions, said, “After most of my wins there has always been a sense of relief that I did it but this time it was pure joy! Also for some reason, I was incredibly calm for the whole day which was a great feeling.”
The Points Effect
Ajeetesh Sandhu’s win on the PGTI in Chandigarh earned him five Official World Golf Ranking points (OWGR), moving him 81 spots — to 362nd in the world from his earlier 433rd. Rashid Khan, the leading money-earner of the season with 62,23,373, earned three ranking points to replace Shubhankar Sharma as the best-ranked Indian in the world at no. 235.
Rashid Khan thereby becomes currently the front-runner for a Tokyo Olympics 2020 spot, where OWGR rankings determine eligibility and only 60 golfers will be qualifying.
Sandhu’s immediate goal is to play on the Japan Golf Tour and European Tour, something that his idol and the host of the event Jeev Milkha Singh did pretty consistently. Sandhu definitely has his eye set on an Olympics spot next year, saying, “Absolutely, playing in the Olympics in Tokyo would be a dream and I still have a long way to go.”
Ajeetesh Sandhu will next be participating at the Japan Golf Tour’s Q-School third stage starting October 29th and will be hoping to qualify for the final stage scheduled in December.
Sandhu has played only four PGTI events this year but stands second on the Order of Merit with 26,57,281, the bulk of which came after his win in Chandigarh.
Ajeetesh Sandhu finished joint runner-up at the US$ 900,000 Mercuries Taiwan Masters with a total score of 9-under 279, a shot behind the eventual winner Suradit Yongchaorenchai at Taiwan Golf & Country Club from October 3-6.
Sandhu shot rounds of 72, 71, 68, and 68 to even lead the tournament on second, third, and a fair bit of the final round. He was leading until the 16th hole, where he made a double-bogey and was never able to recuperate, needing at least an eagle on the par-4 18th to force a playoff. He had to manage with a birdie to finish tied-2nd with Brazilian Adilson Da Silva & Filipino Miguel Tabuena. His performance earned him $72,000 and 6.07 Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points, pushing him to world no. 443 from 577.
Sandhu also moved to no. 15 on the Asian Tour’s Habitat for Humanity Standings with the US $157,171.95 to his name after his runner-up finish at the US$ 900,000 Mercuries Taiwan Masters.
Sandhu, an Asian Tour winner in 2017, saw his second runner-up finish of the 2019 season at the venue. Previously, he finished runner-up at the US$350,000 Bangabandhu Cup Golf Open in April, making US $38,500 in earnings and 8.47 OWGR points for his efforts, helping him move to 262nd in the world.