Gangjee Claims Dream Victory in Volkswagen Masters – China

Beijing, May 2: India’s Rahil Gangjee secured a dream victory in the US$300,000 Volkswagen Masters – China today after defeating Mo Joong-kyung of Korea in a play-off.The 25-year-old Asian Tour rookie showed the poise of a veteran at Pine Valley Golf Club to emerge victorious after a pulsating final round which saw at least seven players in with a chance of winning the inaugural Volkswagen-sponsored event.

Gangjee and Mo finished tied on 15-under-par 273 after rounds of 68 and 66 respectively before the unheralded Indian triumphed in the first sudden-death play-off hole with a par on the 18th hole after Mo had found trouble in the greenside trap.

“It’s beyond my wildest dream,” said a jubilant Gangjee, who pocketed US$48,450 for his first Asian Tour success.

“I can’t describe what I’m feeling right now. You practice for this all your life and suddenly it happens. This feels really good. I putted really well this week and the course suited my game. I’ve done well on Jack Nicklaus designs previously where I finished second twice at the same tournament back home and I was determined to be third time lucky.”

Korea’s Mo sent his approach shot in the play-off into the greenside bunker and failed to find the putting green with his third shot. After Mo’s chip for par slipped by the hole, Gangjee safely two-putted from 15 feet to drive off with the Volkswagen Masters – China title ahead of joint third place finishers Phillip Price of Wales, Korea’s Kang Wook-soon and Aussie duo Richard Moir and Adam Groom.

Mo, who like Gangjee was bogey free today, was disappointed with his runner-up finish. “During regulation, I hit a nine iron over the green. And in the play-off, I had the same yardage, 144 yards, for the approach shot on 18.

“I hit it too easy the second time around and then had a bad lie in the bunker. I am proud though to shoot a 66 but I still came up short,” said Mo, whose finish was his fourth top-10 this season.

Five players entered the Volkswagen Masters – China final round tied for the lead and jostled for position at the top of the leaderboard. Gangjee, who turned pro in 2001 after becoming India’s number one amateur player, turned in 34 and grabbed the lead on his own for the first time when he birdied the par four 14th, the toughest hole all week, with a 12-foot putt.

RD4 MoMo, meanwhile, charged into contention with four straight birdies from the 13th hole, which in the end wasn’t enough to land him the title. Ryder Cup player Price and Korea’s Kang had opportunities to join in the play-off but came up one shot shy.

“It was disappointing. I didn’t really get going today, didn’t find any momentum. I had a makeable putt on 17 to give myself a chance, hit a good putt but just didn’t make it. It was very much like that the whole day,” said Price, who closed with a 69.

Gangjee, playing in only his fourth event on the Asian Tour this season, said he wasn’t nervous at all heading into the play-off. “I have been playing really badly for the last few months and I wasn’t expecting much this week. I just said to myself to go out there and have some fun and I did just that,” said the slightly-build Indian.

He also thanked his compatriot Arjun Atwal, now playing on the US PGA Tour, for giving him the inspiration to excel in the pro ranks. “Arjun showed belief in me even before I started believing in myself,” said Gangjee.

“He lives just three houses away from me in Calcutta and he is my idol. He has great rhythm and a great short game. I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from him and I want to thank him, as well as my coach Anjay Gupta.”

Home hero Zhang Lian-wei, who celebrated his 39th birthday today, finished joint seventh on 276 with Australian Kim Felton after a final round 69. He moved into contention briefly on the back nine after holing out for an eagle two on the 10th hole but a three-putt bogey on 15 dashed his title hopes.

Filipino Gerald Rosales, Singapore’s Mardan Mamat, Kyi Hla Han of Myanmar, American Jason Knutzon and Australian rookie Alistair Presnell shared ninth place on 211.

Final round scores
273 – Rahil Gangjee (IND) 69-66-70-68, Mo Joong-kyung (KOR) 70-70-67-66
(Gangjee wins in first sudden-death play-off hole with a par)
274 – Richard Moir (AUS) 67-70-69-68, Phillip Price (WAL) 68-70-67-69, Kang Wook-soon (KOR) 70-67-68-69, Adam Groom (AUS) 67-69-69-69
276 – Zhang Lian-wei (CHN) 68-70-69-69, Kim Felton (AUS) 70-67-68-71
277 – Gerald Rosales (PHI) 72-65-71-69, Mardan Mamat (SIN) 70-68-70-69, Kyi Hla Han (MYN) 70-68-70-69, Jason Knutzon (USA) 69-70-68-70, Alistair Presnell (AUS) 71-68-68-70
278 – Greg Hanrahan (USA) 70-70-70-68
279 – David Hearn (CAN) 70-69-69-71
280 – Unho Park (AUS) 71-67-72-70, Keith Horne (RSA) 68-70-70-72
281 – Chawalit Plaphol (THA) 69-71-71-70, Ross Bain (SCO) 66-73-70-72, Sushi Ishigaki (JPN) 70-71-69-71, Lee Sung-man (KOR) 71-71-66-73
282 – Amandeep Johl (IND) 71-69-72-70, Koji Katoh (JPN) 73-69-70-70, Jason Dawes (AUS) 73-72-66-71, Chris Williams (RSA) 69-71-70-72
283 – Rick Gibson (CAN) 69-73-70-71, Ian Woosnam (WAL) 75-71-66-71
284 – Lin Chie-Hsiang (TPE) 73-73-72-66, Yoshinobu Tsukada (JPN) 73-71-71-69, Adam Le Vesconte (AUS) 74-69-71-70, Eddie Lee (NZL) 71-71-71-71, Lin Wen-tang (TPE) 71-70-71-72, Edward Michaels (USA) 72-69-71-72, Gary Rusnak (USA) 69-71-71-73, Anthony Kang (USA) 70-72-69-73
285 – Nick Faldo (ENG) 71-70-72-72, Gaurav Ghei (IND) 73-69-69-74
286 – Des Terblanche (RSA) 71-70-76-69, Liang Wen-chong (CHN) 72-72-73-69, Nico Van Rensburg (RSA) 72-74-68-72, Lam Chih Bing (SIN) 75-66-72-73, Lu Wen-teh (TPE) 73-71-69-73
287 – Olle Nordberg (SWE) 70-71-78-68, Simon Yates (SCO) 68-72-76-71, Chung Joon (KOR) 72-68-76-71, Jamnian Chitprasong (THA) 71-70-74-72, Derek Fung (HKG) 75-69-71-72
288 – Adam Fraser (AUS) 74-72-73-69, Marcus Both (AUS) 69-73-74-72, Scott Barr (AUS) 73-68-73-74, Boonchu Ruangkit (THA) 71-71-72-74, Lin Chien-bing (TPE) 73-69-69-77
289 – Pat Giles (AUS) 78-66-71-74, Andrew Pitts (USA) 73-72-69-75
290 – Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 74-72-74-70, Moon Kyung-don (KOR) 72-74-72-72, Jonathan Cheetham (ENG) 71-72-71-76
291 – Hsieh Chin-sheng (TPE) 73-73-77-68, Craig Kamps (RSA) 71-73-76-71, Eiji Mizoguchi (JPN) 72-73-72-74, Bryan Saltus (USA) 71-73-72-75, Mike Cunning (USA) 74-70-72-75
292 – Kim Do-Hoon (KOR) 76-70-75-71, Hong Chia-Yuh (TPE) 77-69-73-73
293 – Jeev Milkha Singh (IND) 73-73-76-71, Arjun Singh (IND) 71-74-76-72, Satoshi Tomiyama (JPN) 74-72-74-73, Uttam Singh Mundy (IND) 74-71-71-77, Katsuhiko Yamazaki (JPN) 74-72-70-77, P. Gunasegaran (MAS) 69-71-75-78
295 – Terry Pilkadaris (AUS) 74-71-76-74, Lai Hung-Lin (TPE) 71-69-75-80
297 – Jim Johnson (USA) 71-74-76-76, Wang Ter-Chang (TPE) 76-70-74-77
298 – Stephen Lindskog (SWE) 73-71-77-77
300 – Lu Wei-Lan (TPE) 74-72-80-74