Aamby Valley: Uttarakhand Lions registered a memorable victory in a nail-biting finish on the final day to lift the inaugural Pearls Golf Premier League title here Sunday.
Uttarakhand Lions, who were third overnight and seven shots adrift of leaders Witalsee Punjab Lancers and five behind second-placed Nippon Kenwood Delhi Darts, zoomed to the top at 34-under at the picturesque Aamby Valley Golf Course.
The team consisted of one of the most successful players in team competitions and a many-time hero at the Ryder Cup, Darren Clarke, Mukesh Kumar, Chapchai Nirat and Shankar Das.
Witalsee Punjab Lancers and Nippon Kenwood Delhi Darts were tied for second at 33-under, while Shubhkamna UP Eagles ended fourth at 32-under despite an incredible and best-of-the-day 11-under by Anirban Lahiri and Shamim Khan.
Uttarakhand Lions were powered by sterling performances from the Clarke-Chapchai and the Mukesh-Shankar combinations. Clarke, a five time member of the European Ryder Cup team, who has also played World Cup and Alfred Dunhill Cup for Ireland, and Chapchai soared on the wings a dramatic eagle and seven birdies for nine-under in the 14-hole round.
Mukesh and Shankar were eight-under with two holes to play, before they bogeyed the 13th, the penultimate hole, but then Mukesh birdied the final par-3, which has a beach bunker and hauled his team atop the leaderboard.
Uttarakhand Lions’ duo Clarke and Chapchai, had two groups behind them when they finished at 34-under. They then sat in the marquee facing the closing hole and watched Delhi Darts and Witalsee Punjab Lancers failed to find a birdie on the last, leaving them stranded at 33-under.
Delhi Darts’ pair of Rahil Gangjee and Scott Barr had two unlucky breaks, which may well have cost them the title. First Barr’s tee shot on the third found a sprinkler in the middle of the fairway and went into the trees and then managed only a par on the par-5 where a birdie is what most others got. Then on the 14th, the final hole, Gangjee sitting on a 12-footer for birdie, suddenly saw his ball move after addressing it. That cost him a stroke and Barr’s par was what they got for the final hole.
In the final group, Johan Edfors and Ajeetesh Sandhu played with Gaganjeet Bhullar and David Howell. Edfors and Sandhu were eight-under after 12 holes and their team was 34-under, when they bogeyed the 13th and failed to birdie the last finishing at 33-under.
Rashid Khan and Thaworn Wiratchant also bogeyed the 13th and failed to birdie the last to finish at four-under. Bhullar and Howell played to five-under and despite brave efforts to add any birdies in the last four holes.
The day’s best score came from Shubhkamna UP Eagles pair, Anirban Lahiri and Shamim Khan, who had one eagle and nine birdies. The only holes they failed to birdie were second, fourth, 10th and 12th holes. With the other Shubhkamna pair of Daniel Chopra and Michael Campbell managing only five-under, the team finished fourth at 32-under, one behind the tied second and two behind the winners.