Challenge Tour Member Rikard Karlber rounded off a superb week to lift his Asian Tour title in emphatic fashion at the SAIL Open.
The Swede, who held the lead from the first round, closed with a stunning six under par round of 66 for a winning aggregate total of 20 under par 268 to beat joint overnight leader Shiv Kapur of India by five strokes at the Delhi Golf Club.
Kapur, playing on his home course, failed to end his five-year title drought as he signed off with a round of 71 in the third edition of the US$300,000 event.
Local hero Jyoti Randhawa finished third on 274 after shooting a fine round of 68, whilst his compatriot SSP Chowrasia finished fourth.
Playing in only his second Asian Tour event, Karlberg got off to the perfect start with an opening birdie, and then saved par with a putt from 15 feet on the second hole to maintain his momentum.
“When I saved par on the second hole, I knew that was the turning point as my putter was hot,” said the Karlberg, winner of the Swedish domestic Tour Order of Merit in 2007.
Three consecutive birdies from the fifth hole saw the steady Swede lead by three shots at the turn, but he was not on cruise mode yet as nerves started to creep in.
The 23 year old said: “I was probably more nervous after those three birdies than I was before. If you hit a bad tee shot, you can lose your ball and end up with a very high score. I wasn’t comfortable until I hit the very last tee shot. To win is just amazing.”
After an opening birdie Kapur looked set to make a strong title push, but a disappointing bogey on the third hole derailed his plans.
“There are key moments in a round and today it was my bogey on the third hole. If I had holed more putts, I would have given myself a chance – but I didn’t. I’m going to be a gracious loser and tip my hat to Rikard, as he played great.
“My putter has been hot and cold this week, and today it was stone cold! I just didn’t bring my A game today. I was playing well, but only it patches. To be able to contend when you’re not on top of your game is something I’ve learned to do.”
Randhawa, who has won four Asian Tour titles at the venerable Delhi Golf Club, closed with five birdies and one bogey, and was pleased with his finish. “If someone told me I would finish third in the beginning of the week, I would’ve taken it. I’ve been hitting it well the whole week, but Rikard played great golf.”