Ajeetesh Sandhu of India fired a two-under-par 70 to claim a dream victory at the US$500,000 Yeangder Tournament Players Championship (TPC) on Sunday.
The 28-year-old returned with a winning total of 12-under-par 276 to defeat Johannes Veerman (71) of the United States by one-shot at the Linkou International Golf and Country Club.
Local star Lu Wei-chih posted a 72 to miss out on the chance to win the Yeangder TPC for the second time in his career. Lu fired four birdies against as many bogeys to claim his best result since winning the 2016 Mercuries Taiwan Masters.
Sandhu kept a cool head to romp to his first Asian Tour victory. The win was a huge lift in his career as he missed out on a Tour card at Qualifying School earlier this year.
He made full use of this country exemption this week as he edged a battling Veerman to the title after trading three birdies against one bogey.
Veerman, also searching for a first Asian Tour victory, almost forced a play-off when his eagle chip on the 18th hole hit the pin. He settled for runner-up, the second time in his career on the Asian Tour.
Lu, who underwent a brain surgery in 2012, was disappointed to miss out on a grandstand finish when he bogeyed the par-three 17th hole due to a poor club selection.
Did you know?
- Sandhu is the 10th first-time Asian Tour winner in 2017. He is also the second player after Jazz Janewattananond to win an event without a full Tour card.
- He is the third Indian to win on the Asian Tour in 2017 and the second player from his country after Gaganjeet Bhullar to win the Yeangder TPC.
- The Yeangder TPC is the second event in Chinese Taipei which is sponsored by the Yeangder Group. Shiv Kapur won the first tournament (Yeangder Heritage) in April, completing a clean sweep for Indian golfers in Yeangder sponsored tournaments.
- Sandhu took advantage of the par-five 10th hole this week where he made four birdies. In total, he accumulated 17 birdies against five bogeys.
- With the victory Sandhu took home US$90,000 including a two-year winner’s exemption on the Asian Tour.
- He won the Yeangder TPC one day before his 29th birthday.
- Prior to this victory, Sandhu’s best results on the Asian Tour was third at the 2011 SAIL Open in India and 2017 TAKE Solutions Masters.
- Veerman missed out on a chance to win his first Asian Tour title. He turned in 37 and posted three birdies against one bogey. He needed an eagle on the last hole to force a play-off but his chip hit the pin.
- Lu bogeyed the second hole but recovered nicely with birdies on holes five and three. He returned with two birdies against three bogeys on his homeward nine to miss out on a chance to become only the second player after Thaworn Wiratchant to win the Yeangder TPC twice.
Ajeetesh Sandhu (Ind) – Final Round 70 (-2), 276 (-12)
I’m still shaking from the last putt but now that I’m thinking about it, it is absolutely amazing. I thought I would be a lot more nervous than what I was but after I got back to the hotel yesterday (round 3), I had so much of support from India. So many people, including people I don’t know were messaging me. That really calmed me down.
I’m proud of myself that I was able to focus on my own my game. I was just trying to hit the next shot the best that I could and I won.
There were a lot of turning points. I started off really good. I didn’t birdie the first hole but I played it really well and I birdied two and three. I just played them absolutely perfect. After that I felt so comfortable. Those birdies really made me calm down.
I thought about the win after I hit the drive on 18 because the guys were two shots back. But then my second shot ended up in the bunker and I told myself that you can’t let that thought enter your mind. It does cross your mind but I was pretty sure I had to come back to the present.
While I was walking up the 18th hole, Johannes Veerman said to me, “Good drive man but you better birdie this hole because I’m going to eagle it.” And his chip for eagle actually hit the flag! He just looked at me and we both laughed. It was great fun playing with him.
(on Lu Wei-chih) If someone can come back from that (brain surgery), it is just amazing and he is a great champion. The way he handles himself is so respectable. It was amazing to play with him.
I have a country exemption on the Asian Tour so missing out on an Asian Tour card wasn’t the biggest disappointment. I was expecting to play in some Asian Tour events this year but with the way the Tour is looking next year, this win couldn’t come at a better time.
To be honest, I’ve had a couple of close calls at home but I didn’t get it done. I guess I was saving for this win.
Johannes Veerman (Usa) – Final Round 71 (-1), Total 277 (-11)
I knew I had to eagle to force a play-off and we all think about that Tiger Woods moment when you have to do something crazy to win. I was telling myself, ‘this is it, this is the moment’ and when my ball hit the pin, it was unreal. It didn’t go in but it was still a great shot.
I played really well on the front side but I didn’t make any birdies. That’s part of the game of golf. Hopefully the next time I’m in contention I will be making birdies and not just pars. I hope it is just a matter of ‘when’ I will win my first Asian Tour title. Look at Gavin (Green), he is my friend and he finished three times runner-up before he finally won. That just shows you that you have to keep moving forward.
Lu Wei-chih (Tpe) – Final Round 72 (even), Total (-10)
I am disappointed with how I finished and I think I could have done better if not for my three bogeys on 12, 14 and 17. I think that Sandhu won because he made pars but Veerman and I bogeyed a few holes.
My caddy kept me calm towards the last few holes. On 17 I wanted to play a five-iron but instead listened to my caddy and played a six-iron. My shot ended up short of the green and I bogeyed that hole.
On the 18th, it was the opposite case. My second shot went into the greenside bunker I got it out to about six feet but missed my birdie putt. Overall it is okay and I’m still happy with the result.
Scores after round 4 of the Yeangder TPC being played at the par 72, 7108 Yards Linkou GcC course (am – denotes amateur):
276 – Ajeetesh SANDHU (IND) 69-69-68-70.
277 – Johannes VEERMAN (USA) 67-69-70-71.
278 – LU Wei-chih (TPE) 69-68-69-72.
279 – Adilson DA SILVA (BRA) 71-73-70-65, Dodge KEMMER (USA) 68-69-74-68.
281 – SUNG Mao-chang (TPE) 70-67-74-70, Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 71-68-70-72, Antonio LASCUNA (PHI) 69-70-69-73.
282 – Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 72-70-72-68, Younghan SONG (KOR) 73-70-68-71.
283 – Scott VINCENT (ZIM) 74-69-71-69, Suradit YONGCHAROENCHAI (THA) 71-70-71-71, Danny CHIA (MAS) 68-71-69-75.
284 – Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA) 70-67-74-73, Nicholas FUNG (MAS) 75-67-69-73.
285 – Miguel TABUENA (PHI) 74-72-71-68, Micah Lauren SHIN (USA) 72-69-72-72, KAO Shang-hung (TPE) 70-71-72-72.
286 – Marcus BOTH (AUS) 72-72-73-69, Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 68-76-71-71.