Chandigarh golfer Karandeep Kochhar pockets maiden pro title

In November 2016, Kolkota; then at 17 years and four months, Chandigarh’s Karandeep Kochhar became the first amateur to win the PGTI (Professional Golf Tour of India) title. The efforts also helped him better the record of another local golfer, Shubhankar Sharma (17 years and eight months), to become the country’s youngest to win the title. Kochhar turned professional the very next year in February.

Now, after a wait of almost four years and 45 tournaments in the PGTI circuit, Kochhar has finally won his maiden pro title at the Tata Steel Players Championship 2020 presented by the Chandigarh Golf Club on Thursday.

The leader of the last two days, Kochhar taking full advantage of his home course, played a round of three-under-69 to complete his tally at 18-under-270 and pocket the winner’s cheque for ₹4.84 lakh. Kolkota’s Sunit Chowrasia finished second at 16-under-272, while another Chandigarh golfer and last event’s winner Akshay Sharma finished third at 14-under-274.

“It’s obviously a long awaited win. It’s been almost four years since I turned professional. I was searching for this opportunity,” said an elated Kochhar, adding that though over the years he was not able to win the title, he remained very calm, focused and kept on working on his game.

“Today, finally, I am able to break the jinx. In the past, I came close to winning and finished at second place three to four times. I was even placed second last week in Panchkula, and that built my momentum for this win. I am really happy for today’s victory, and being my first pro title, it will always remain special for me in the years to come,” he said.

‘Overall I am in a better shape’

Kochhar started the tournament with six-under-66 and maintained his consistency till the end (66-68-67-69). In the tournament, he had just two bogeys. “I have put in a lot of work in the past two-three months, especially in the gym and that has helped me a lot. My confidence is up, I am much healthier, changed my lifestyle, the way I eat, the way I sleep and the way I work. Overall I am in a better shape,” he said.

“In the last two months, I had played a lot of golf at my home course and have been very much familiar with the course. And our weekly in-house pro tournaments at Chandigarh Golf Club also helped me to prepare better for the tournament,” said Kochhar, who has been visiting the course with his grandfather Dr GS Kochhar since he was little above three.

He started the sport at an early age and had been the top ranked golfer in the age group categories in the amateur circuit. He also won the 116th All-India Amateur Championship in December 2016, before turning professional.

“Golf is very important for me and my life revolves around it. My entire day goes to the sport, and after Class 12, I had taken a break from the studies. But now, I will pursue my graduation from next year,” said Kochhar.

As for now, he plans to take a break for a few days, following which his coach Jesse Grewal will conduct analysis of his game and “will work on my shortcomings or wherever we need to improve”. “My next target is the Jeev invitational tournament to be held next month in Chandigarh,” he said.

How others fared at tournament

Chowrasia played Thursday’s best card of 10-under-62 and also broke the previous course record of 8-under-64, jointly held by Rashid Khan, Sudhir Sharma and Abhijit Singh Chadha.

Chandigarh golfer Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (67) and Gurugram’s Veer Ahlawat (70) were joint fourth at 13-under-275.

Abhijit Singh Chadha (66) in tied sixth at 11-under-277 and Aadil Bedi (68) in tied 10th at nine-under-279 were the other two local players in the top 10.

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