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Rahil Gangjee ends 14-year title wait at Panasonic Open Golf Championship

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India’s Rahil Gangjee ended his barren run that stretched over a decade by closing with a three-under-par 68 for a one-shot victory over Korea’s Hyungsung Kim and Junggon Hwang at the Panasonic Open Golf Championship on Sunday.

Gangjee admitted he had self-doubts after not being able to enjoy much success since his last Asian Tour win in China in 2004. However, it was his sheer will power that brought him back into the winner’s circle after enduring years of frustration.

 

Despite the immense pressure on 18, Gangjee managed to hit his bunker shot out to within 10 feet of the pin.

The 39-year-old would go on to sink that decisive birdie and win his second Asian Tour title with his four-day total of 14-under-par 270 at the JP¥150,000,000 (approx. US$1,370,000) event that is sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO).

Zimbabwean Scott Vincent continued to knock on the winner’s door when he signed off with a 66 to finish in a share of fourth place that also included Thailand’s Rattanon Wannasrichan and Sihwan Kim of the United States.

Although India’s Shiv Kapur closed with a 75, it was enough to win the Panasonic Swing series where he earned the top bonus prize of US$70,000 and an exemption into an event on the European Tour this year.

Speaking after his win, Gangjee said, "It has been 14 years. I’ve been in such situations a few times now but obviously have not been able to convert my chances until today. It has been a very hard 14 years and the thing that surprises even myself is my will to keep going. Everyone will play their part in helping you out, the caddie, the mother, the father, the wife, friends. But more than anything else, you have to want it. And that has kept me going.

"My heart rate was up especially when I got to the green and I knew I had to get up and down. That’s where my heart started racing and my mind started going all over the place. That was the chance I had to convert. My third shot out of the bunker was not really a tough shot. But under the pressure it could have been a very tough one. But somehow I was calm. My bunker play is one of the strongest aspects of my game. A lot of people don’t get to see it, but if you ask my caddie, he’ll tell you that’s the best.

"I have a lot of close friends who have been there for me and have always supported me. Having mates on Tour supporting you is a big thing as golf is a very competitive sport. It is an individual sport and you need friends to help you through the bad times. This win will sink in. When you do not deliver after so many times, you start to doubt yourself And when you finally deliver, it’s a very big thing."

Leading scores after round 4

270 - Rahil GANGJEE (IND) 69-65-68-68.

271 - Junggon HWANG (KOR) 71-67-67-66, Hyungsung KIM (KOR) 66-68-67-70.

274 - Sanghee LEE (KOR) 66-73-70-65, Scott VINCENT (ZIM) 73-67-68-66, Shugo IMAHIRA (JPN) 72-68-68-66, Masahiro KAWAMURA (JPN) 66-70-71-67, Rattanon WANNASRICHAN (THA) 70-67-70-67, Sihwan KIM (USA) 70-67-68-69.

275 - Yuki INAMORI (JPN) 69-69-71-66, Ben LEONG (MAS) 67-67-72-69, Ajeetesh SANDHU (IND) 69-69-68-69, Rikuya HOSHINO (JPN) 64-68-73-70.

276 - Nicholas FUNG (MAS) 69-72-69-66, Toshinori MUTO (JPN) 70-68-70-68, Kyungnam KANG (KOR) 68-73-67-68, Miguel TABUENA (PHI) 70-68-68-70, Yuta IKEDA (JPN) 73-68-65-70, Shingo KATAYAMA (JPN) 64-70-70-72.

277 - Mikumu HORIKAWA (JPN) 72-67-69-69, Koki FURUTA (JPN) 70-71-67-69, Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA) 67-69-70-71.