Kaufman Blog: Tales of two worthy champions

Wed 23 Mar 2016

Kaufman Blog: Tales of two worthy champions

  • SHARE
March 23: In his latest blog for asiantour.com, Asian Tour commentator Richard Kaufman looks back at the last two Asian Tour events, the True Thailand Classic presented by Chang and Hero Indian Open and uncovers similarities in how both events concluded.
By Richard Kaufman
It’s been great to cover the last couple of months’ events from the Eurasia Cup to the Hero Indian Open for Sky Sports in the UK. For while they are all familiar faces to me, for a British audience getting to know players like Miguel Tabuena and Rashid Khan is a new experience.
I hope with my time spent amongst the players on the Asian Tour, I am able to get across the players’ stories, while they show they have the game to translate on to a world stage.
It’s amazing how back to back events can transpire to repeat in some way.
The last two co-sanctioned tournaments by the Asian Tour and European Tour couldn’t have been much different in terms of the backdrop. From the coastal resort of Hua Hin in Thailand with a layout that favoured the biggest hitters to a tight tree lined course right in the middle of the capital of India where distance off the tee was no advantage whatsoever.
But there were some similarities in what unfolded. For both Scott Hend and SSP Chawrasia, redemption won the day. A year ago at Black Mountain, Hend went into the final round at Black Mountain with the lead but an ordinary last 18 holes saw him just miss out on the True Thailand Classic title.
Twelve months on and this time the Australian didn’t relent on his last day lead. He admitted the experience of 2015 helped his cause a year later as he secured his eighth Asian Tour victory to establish himself as the most successful international golfer in Asia.
In the 2015 Hero Indian Open, Chawrasia blew a two shot lead going into the final round with a last day collapse which ended with him in the fabled bushes of Delhi Golf Club at the first play-off hole, denied by the new Indian wonder that is Anirban Lahiri.
A year later and this time Shiv Shankar Prad Chawrasia, to give him his full title, held onto to that final day lead and it was Lahiri this time who would be denied. Redemption.
Something happened in those closing minutes that made me proud to be associated with the game of golf.
Lahiri was, of course, determined to beat the man who will probably turn it out to be his partner at this summer’s Olympic Games. But he could immediately acknowledge what guts Chawrasia had shown with that wedge at 18 to four feet.
The crowd cheered and amongst them clapping as loud as anyone with his hands above his head was Lahiri, the man he was denying successive Indian Open titles. It was indeed wonderful sportsmanship in the heat of the battle.
Lahiri has moved on to Texas and the WGC-Dell Match Play followed by the Masters Tournament while Chawrasia will give the European Tour another go. He will struggle on quite a few of the layouts.
How could he not when he averages 260 yards off the tee. But there will be weeks when he will surprise, armed with one of the sweetest short games around. I have a feeling that anything from now is a bonus for Chawrasia. After finishing a runner=up at his “fifth major” on four occasions, he can now call himself an Indian Open champion. Redemption indeed.