GURGAON, Mar 12 (PTI): SSP Chawrasia today became only the second Indian golfer to successfully defend the Hero Indian Open, clinching a seven-stroke win at the redesigned DLF golf and country club here.
Chawrasia, who was sharing the lead with Spain's Carlos Pigem and England's Eddie Pepperell after day 3, emerged as the sole leader after 42 of the 69 golfers who made the cut returned to complete the third round today.
"I am very happy. It is such a tough course, I think I got lucky this week," Chawrasia said after pocketing a winner's cheque of USD 291,660.
"It was only after I drove from the 18th tee I felt now I will win this one. All week, I just tried to keep it straight and putt well.
"I m glad my prediction of 10-under came true," added the Kolkata pro, who became the second Indian after Jeev Milkha Singh to bag four European Tour titles.
This was his sixth win on the Asian Tour and overall sixth international victory.
On the eve of the tournament, Chawrasia had predicted 10-under could be a winning score and his prediction came true as the 38-year-old from Kolkata sunk four birdies and dropped three shots, including a last hole bogey, to card exactly 10-under 278.
He become the third player to win back-to-back Indian Open. Jyoti Randhawa (2006, 2007) and Japan's Kenji Hosoishi (1967, 1968) were the other two golfers.
Interestingly, this is also the third consecutive win for India at the Indian Open with Anirban Lahiri winning it in 2015 and Chawrasia bagging the title last year.
With Chawrasia leading by two strokes over Spain's Carlos Pigem, any hope of the Spaniard challenging him evaporated by the fourth hole when the Indian sunk a birdie, while Pigem dropped a shot.
Though Chawrasia stumbled on two consecutive bogeys at the sixth and seventh holes, it didn't hurt his chances as the Spaniard too dropped a shot at the seventh. Chawrasia then fired two back-to-back birdies to once again grab a five-stroke advantage.
After making the turn at one-under, Chawrasia picked up another birdie at the 13th hole with a 10-feet putt, while Pigem bogeyed the 14th and 16th before ending his campaign with a double bogey in the 18th hole. He signed off at the fifth spot.
It wasn't a fairytale ending at the last hole for Chawrasia either as he bogeyed it to finish one-under.
Scotland's Scott Jamieson (72) and Italy's Matteo Manassero (73) were tied third at two-under 286.
Lahiri, on the other hand, had another roller-coaster round. He struck five birdies against four bogeys to turn in a one-under card for a share of the fifth spot.
Among other Indians, Chirag Kumar (74) and S Chikkarangappa (72) signed off at the 22nd and 34th spot with totals of 293 and 295 respectively.