Muniyappa Is India's New Hero

Sun 11 Oct 2009

Muniyappa Is India's New Hero

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New Delhi, October 11: C. Muniyappa's dream became a reality today when he triumphed in the US$1.25 million Hero Honda Indian Open today after beating Lee Sung on the first extra hole.



C. Muniyappa drained a 10 foot birdie putt on the par five 18th to win at DLF Golf and Country Club and transformed the life of a golfer who once earned one rupee working as a caddie aged seven in Bangalore.



The 32 year old had a one stroke lead at the start of the day and closed with a two-under-par 70.



Deaf golfer Lee caught him with a 69, helped by a birdie on the last. The pair finished tied on 12-under-par 276.



Australian Marcus Both,  Kwanchai Tannin from Thailand and India's Anirban Lahiri finished two strokes back. Both shot 71, Tannin came in with a 70 while Lahiri charged up the leader board with a 64 helped by an eagle on the last.



"I only came here to try and help keep my Asian Tour card. It was only when I got to the play-off that I thought let's go for the win. I really don't know what I will do with the prize money. Maybe rent a house," said Muniyappa, whose home club is Karnataka Golf Association golf course in Bangalore.



He turned professional in 1996 but this year marks his first season on the Asian Tour which makes his victory even more incredible.



"I learned the game by watching members at the club. My first clubs were a seven iron and a two iron. I have never had a coach. I got some advice on things to work on this year on my swing but it would a have taken a lot of practicing. There is no time. I'd rather be playing in tournaments than practicing," added Muniyappa.


 


Muniyappa, whose first name is Chinnaswamy, birdied seven and nine for a solid front nine. He then made another birdie on 11 but dropped his first shot of the day on 14. He recovered with a birdie on the following hole before dropping a shot on the 16th. He then parred his way home.



He earned US$198,125 for the victory which made the US$17,391 he has earned from the other 10 Asian Tour events this year paltry. The result saw him lead from 97th position on the Order of Merit to sixth.



Lee, who has been deaf since birth, missed a birdie putt from 12 feet on the play-off hole to open the door for his inexperienced Indian opponent.



The Korean, who has won once before on the Asian Tour in the 2007 Bangkok Airways Open, has been hovering just off the lead all week and comfortably made the green in two to make a fine birdie four on his last hole.



He mounted a challenge for the title with a three under par front nine but he made costly bogeys on 12 and 16.



"I thought I could win and felt confident all week. I was very patient and kept my concentration very well. It is disappointing but I think this week was meant Muniyappa's week," said Lee.



Leading final round scores:



Par 72



276 - C. Muniyappa (IND) 66-69-71-70, Lee Sung (KOR) 65-70-72-69


278 - Anirban Lahiri (IND) 72-71-71-64, Kwanchai Tannin (THA) 68-69-71-70, Marcus Both (AUS) 69-71-67-71


280 - Ashok Kumar (IND) 71-71-68-70, Digvijay Singh (IND) 68-68-71-73


282 - Gavin Flint (AUS) 73-71-69-69, Keith Horne (RSA) 67-71-73-71, Antonio Lascuna (PHI) 69-71-70-72, Harendra Gupta (IND) 68-72-67-75


283 - Udorn Duangdecha (THA) 71-72-68-72, Mukesh Kumar (IND) 71-68-70-74. Adam Blyth (AUS) 64-72-72-75, Jbe Kruger (RSA) 70-68-70-75


284 - Danny Chia (MAS) 71-72-72-69, Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 73-71-68-72, Unho Park (AUS) 67-72-71-74



ENDS


About the Asian Tour
As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia.  This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include ESPN Star Sports (Official Regional TV Broadcaster), Pin High (Official Apparel Partner), Ricoh (Official Office Solutions Provider) and Srixon (Official Ball). Sentosa, Singapore's premier island resort getaway, is the Home of the Asian Tour.