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.
Did you know?
– Prior to his second Asian Tour win at the Panasonic Open Golf Championship, Rahil Gangjee has not made the cut in all three events he played in. He was forced to retired in Singapore and Myanmar because of a stomach upset.
– Besides a two-year winners’ exemption on the Asian Tour, Gangjee will also earn a two-year exemption on the JGTO
– Gangjee was in 84th place on the Panasonic Swing at the start of the week but would finish second with his win at the Panasonic Open Golf Championship.
– Gangjee’s last win on the Asian Tour came in 2004 in China where he beat a top field that included Europe’s Ryder Cup heroes Phillip Price, Ian Woosnam and Nick Faldo.
– He had several close finishes since then, most notably at the Panasonic Open India in 2014 when he lost in a play-off to S.S.P. Chawrasia.
– Rattanon enjoyed a personal achievement where he made the cut in Japan for the first time in his career.
– He also earned US$30,000 courtesy of his third place finish on the Panasonic Swing.
– Scott Vincent enjoyed his second top-10 finish with his first coming in Myanmar at the start of the year.
Rahil Gangjee (Ind) Fourth round 68 (-3), Total 202 (-11)
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.
Scott Vincent (Zim), Fourth round 66 (-5), Total 274 (-10)
I played so well today and definitely gave myself a chance. I didn’t realise I was so close to the leaders until I saw the leaderboard when I was at 16. I just played great and hit a lot of good shots. I hit a lot of good putts that couldn’t go in especially towards the end. But all in all, I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to that breakthrough. Hopefully it’s just a matter of time. My wife has been amazing and she keeps telling me to stay patient when I get a little too far ahead or down on myself. She’ll pick me up and point me in the right direction and reminding me to trust myself. Hopefully this is just the beginning of what would be a very good stretch of events for me.
Rattanon Wannasrichan (Tha), Fourth round 67 (-4), Total 274 (-10)
It has been a good week for me as I managed to make the cut for the first time in Japan. I’ve been hitting the ball really well this week but I guess the pressure did get to me a little bit. I hope to improve on my mental strength as I start on this good stretch of events on the Asian Tour.
Ben Leong (Mas) Fourth round 69 (-2), Total 275 (-9)
The week has been awesome. The game is coming along very well and it’s good to see that in Japan where the atmosphere is very nice. You got good crowds coming out to watch you and they love their golf here. I think I’ve found something in my golf swing which has led to this week’s solid result. You got to hit the ball really well over here and I managed to do that. I’m going to head back to Kota Kinabalu now to see my son and I can’t wait to do that.
Shiv Kapur (Ind) Fourth round 75 (+4), Total 284 (Even)
I carried a lot of pressure coming into this week of trying to win the Panasonic Swing and that kind of showed in my game a little bit. But overall, it was okay. I made the cut in all five events on the Panasonic Swing, finishing in the top-20 in four out of the five events. So I’m very proud of the way I’ve played. To be able to be the first to win the inaugural Panasonic Swing will go down in the history books as a proud achievement for me.
Leading scores after round 4 of the Panasonic Open Golf Championship being played at the par 71, 7343 Yards Ibaraki CC course (am – denotes amateur):
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.