India’s Shiv Kapur closed the year on a high with his third victory of the 2017 Asian Tour season at the Royal Cup in Thailand.
Kapur, the only golfer to win multiple Asian Tour titles in 2017, emerged triumphant in a fascinating duel against Thailand’s Prom Meesawat on the final day of the US$500,000 event.
Kapur (67-68-68-67) posted a last round of four-under-67 to finish with a total of 14-under-270, one ahead of Meesawat.
There were three Indians in the top-6 as Gaganjeet Bhullar (67-71-69-66) secured third place at 11-under-273 while Khalin Joshi (70-68-71-67) claimed sixth place at eight-under-276.
At the start of the final round, Prom was two shots ahead of Kapur, who was four shots ahead of the rest of the field.
However, Prom lost his advantage as early as the second hole of the Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club. After pulling to the left, Prom had to settle for a bogey at the par-three hole, while Kapur knocked in a birdie.
Prom’s further bogeys on the fifth and ninth handed Kapur the lead. Although, the 33-year-old Thai managed to shake off his nerves after the turn and it was all square again following consecutive birdies on the 11th and 12th.
Kapur did himself no favours when he bogeyed the 13th and 14th and in the process, handed Prom a two-shot lead again.
Kapur bounced back remarkably with two consecutive birdies of his own and it was back to a deadlock. With Prom bogeying the 17th, the door was left open for Shiv to win the Royal Cup, and he did.
Prom nearly forced a playoff as he narrowly missed a birdie putt at the last hole of the tournament.
Shiv, who won the Yeangder Heritage and the Panasonic Open India earlier in the year, made 19 birdies at the cost of five bogeys during the Royal Cup week. It was his fourth win on the Asian Tour and the seventh international win by an Indian in 2017.
Kapur, who traded six birdies for two bogeys on Sunday, said, “It was a see-saw battle indeed. I had to come out fighting straight out of the blocks. I made two birdies in my first three holes and that reversed Prom’s advantage. It doesn’t always go to plan, but luckily, I started well and he made a bogey on the second hole and before I knew it, I was leading the tournament.
“On the ninth, I made a good par, which was pivotal. I had a great putt from off the green on 10th. At that stage, I thought I was in control. I hit a poor drive on the 11th and got away with par. He made good birdies on 11th and 12th and regained the lead.
“I felt that I made a bad swing on 13th and that carried over to the next hole. After the two bogeys, I was obviously disappointed as a two-shot lead turned into a two-shot deficit.
“Standing on the 15th tee, I told my caddie that we’re not going to go down without a fight. Let’s make a birdie here and see what happens or at least give myself a chance going into the last two holes.
“The birdie there (on the 15th) got me back into the tournament. I had a good up and down on the 17th and Prom kind of handed me the tournament as he three putted there. At the 18th, I thought he was a bit unluckily. Prom is a steely competitor and I’m lucky to come out on top.
“I think the tournament has a great format. It has a lot of history and I’m glad to join the illustrious list of winners.
“A lot of people were taking the week off. In hindsight, sometimes, good things happen. If I had made the EurAsia Cup team, I wouldn’t be here. It’s always great to win three times on Tour during the season. On top of that, it’s a special feeling to have my daughter here on the 18th green celebrating my win.
“If 2018 can come anywhere close, I’ll be happy. I’ll be building on my success. After three weeks of rest and relaxation, I’ll be back competing on the Asian Tour.”
Gaganjeet Bhullar held on to his third round position of third place after a 66 that featured an eagle, four birdies and a bogey.
Bhullar said, “I had a good tournament. I didn’t prepare much as I came straight from my wedding. Today was particularly good. I holed a lot of good putts and gave myself good opportunities. I played well but obviously these guys (Kapur and Prom) played better than me.
“It is good playing this golf course again. I had good memories from last year and I’m glad I came back and played well this week.
“The year 2017 has been a memorable one. The Macao Open was special as it was a wire-to-wire victory and my second win there. It’ll be a tournament that is always close to my heart. This week was great, of course.”
Khalin Joshi fired a last round of 67 to gain three places from his overnight tied ninth and finally finish sixth.
Jyoti Randhawa ended the week in tied 41st at three-over-287.