Mithun Perera wins ICC RCGC Open Golf Championship 2019

Mithun Perera wins ICC RCGC Open Golf Championship 2019

Key highlights:

  • Mithun Perera claims the ICC RCGC Open

  • First 3-rounds leader, Kapil Kumar slips

Sri Lankan Mithun Perera put up a resilient display to
come through in a thriller in the final round and lift the trophy at the
inaugural ICC RCGC Open Golf Championship Powered by Bharat Benz, a TATA Steel
PGTI event, played at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC).

Perera, who won his seventh title on Sunday, carded an
eventful but courageous even-par-72 in the last round to emerge winner by one
stroke at eight-under-280 at the Rs. 40 lakh event. 

Mithun’s prize money cheque of Rs. 6,46,600 catapulted him from 26th to 14th position in the TATA Steel PGTI Order of Merit.

Lucknow’s Sanjeev Kumar, who was the leader by three
shots at one stage on Sunday and thus staring at his maiden title, had to
settle for second place after a 71 saw him total seven-under-281 for the week. 

Mumbai’s Anil Bajrang Mane (71) and Delhi’s Shamim Khan
(71) took joint third place at four-under-284.

Gurugram’s Manu Gandas matched the best round of the tournament with his 65 to finish tied fifth at three-under-285 along with Delhi’s Kapil Kumar (77), the leader for the first three rounds, as well as Chandigarh’s Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (69) and Gurugram’s Ankur Chadha (70).

Mithun Perera (71-70-67-72), the joint overnight leader,
made a disastrous start to all but blow away his title hopes as he made four
bogeys on the first 11 holes courtesy some ordinary hitting and putting.

The 32-year-old Mithun then made a roaring comeback on
the back-nine with birdies on the 14th, 15th and 16th largely thanks to a
couple of 15-feet conversions. After missing a short birdie putt on the 17th,
Perera played a decisive 3-wood approach from 215 yards on the 18th that landed
three feet short of the flag and set up his winning putt.

Perera said, “The first 13 holes are always tough on this
course, so I knew that I will have a chance to come back on the final stretch.
I then knew I had to make at least a par on the last hole since I was level
with Sanjeev so I tried to go for a two-on and two-putt par on the 18th. 

However, I didn’t realize how well I had executed my approach until it landed just three feet from the flag which turned out to be a bonus for me.

“It’s such a big relief to win after a long gap. I
dedicate this win to my late father and one of Sri Lanka’s all-time great
golfers, Mr. Nandasena Perera, who passed away earlier this year.

“I’m eagerly looking forward to the last two weeks of the
season as both the courses, the KGA in Bengaluru and Golmuri in Jamshedpur,
suit my game,” added Mithun, who recently became a father for the first time.

Sanjeev Kumar (75-68-67-71), a two-time runner-up on the
PGTI in 2017, seemed well on course for his maiden title when he fired two birdies
on the front-nine. However, the 28-year-old stumbled with a couple of bogeys on
the back-nine that saw his challenge fade away despite a birdie on the 15th as
Perera gained significant ground.

Sanjeev, who turned professional in 2011, said, “After a
solid front-nine where I created a lot of chances, my hitting form deserted me
on the back-nine. I just couldn’t get that one crucial birdie on the last three
holes as my tee shots were not landing in good positions. I’m happy with the
way I played and hope to break that victory barrier soon.”