Akshay Sharma pulls off career-best seven-under-65 for breakthrough win at inaugural QA InfoTech Open
Noida, September 14: Chandigarh’s Akshay Sharma pulled off a career-best seven-under-65 in the final round of the QA InfoTech Open 2018 to post his breakthrough PGTI win with a thumping six-shot margin at the Noida Golf Course.
The 28-year-old Akshay, who turned professional in 2011, shot scores of 73, 70, 69 and 65, to end the Rs. 50 lakh event with a total score of 11-under-277. His error-free fourth round of 65 was also the best round of the tournament.
Sri Lankan Mithun Perera (69-71-73-70) finished a distant second at five-under-283.
Akshay Sharma began the day in second place, trailing leader Angad Cheema of neighboring city Panchkula by two shots. Akshay soon emerged as the top contender as he made a dream start with birdies on the first three holes even as his nearest rivals Angad Cheema and Mithun Perera stumbled with bogeys.
He sank a 10-footer on the second and followed that up with a terrific tee shot on the par-3 third that landed three feet from the pin.
Sharma, who had four top-10s earlier in the year, continued the fireworks on the front-nine adding birdies on the sixth and seventh by landing his wedge shots within two feet of the flag on both holes. He thus enjoyed a commanding six-shot lead at the turn and seemed well on course for his first PGTI title.
Akshay, a winner on the PGTI Feeder Tour in 2014, played some solid golf on the back-nine by sinking two long birdie putts on the 13th and 17th and making seven pars to come home the champion.
Akshay, who took home the winner’s cheque worth Rs. 8,08,250, has now zoomed from 26th place to fifth position in the PGTI Order of Merit. Sharma’s previous best result on the PGTI was third place at Chandigarh last year.
Akshay said, “I’m overjoyed. I’ve waited for my first PGTI win for almost eight years. All aspects of my game clicked today as I produced my career-best score. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
“The birdies on the first three holes just eased the pressure on me and set me up for a good score. By the time I made the turn I had a huge advantage of six shots and felt in good rhythm. I told myself at that stage that no matter what I will play safe from here on and not miss the green.
“Importantly, I didn’t make any mistakes or drop any bogeys today. I hardly put a foot wrong as there were no bad shots during the round. I also didn’t think too much about what the others were doing. I first felt I had sealed it only after the 16th.
“My game picked up in the last two seasons thanks to two people, Jeev Milkha Singh and my caddy Montu. I started playing rounds with Jeev Sir in Chandigarh about two years back in order to improve my game. He often shared his inputs and experience with me which really helped my game. Jeev Sir also motivated me before my round this morning by asking me to focus on my game and not think too much and get too ahead of myself.
“My caddy Montu also brought in all his experience from caddying for Rashid Khan on the Asian Tour. He taught me a lot about reading greens and helped improve my short-game. Unfortunately, he was not on the bag for me this week as he is caddying for Rashid Khan in an Asian Tour event.
“I have to thank my fellow professionals from Chandigarh, Harendra Gupta and Ranjit Singh. I literally learnt playing golf by watching them.
“I also thank the Chandigarh Golf Club for their support through the years. I would specifically like to thank Mr. B S Gill, President, Chandigarh Golf Club, as well as members Mr. Satish Pardesi and Mrs. Akanksha Gupta, for all their help. The victory will help me set higher goals in the future.”
Mithun Perera had a late surge of four birdies on the last five holes that saw him sign off with a 70 to finish runner-up.
Delhi’s Arjun Prasad (71) claimed third place at four-under-284.
Angad Cheema, the round three leader, carded a last round of 77 to finish tied 11th at one-under-287.
Noida’s Gaurav Pratap Singh performed the best among the local golfers as he secured tied 18th place at one-over-289.
Indian star Jeev Milkha Singh claimed tied 45th place at eight-over-296. He posted a 78 in the final round.