India’s Jyoti Randhawa lifted the US$400,000 Singapore Open title today for his fourth career Davidoff Tour victory, but only his first outside his country, after firing a closing five-under-par 67 at the Singapore Island Country Club.
The 28-year-old Randhawa celebrated a dominating three-stroke triumph at the SICC’s Island Course over South African Hendrik Buhrmann with his 20-under-par 268 winning total, which tied the third lowest score on the Asian PGA circuit.
Randhawa, the 2000 Indian Open winner, collected US$64,600 and moved from fourth to second place in the Davidoff Tour Order of Merit behind Yeh Wei-tze of Taiwan, with the season-ending US$500,000 Omega Hong Kong Open remaining next week.
England’s Simon Dyson kept himself in the hunt for the money list crown after the day’s best of 65 earned him a joint third finish with Gerald Rosales of the Philippines (72), India’s Amandeep Johl (69), and Korea’s Charlie Wi (70) on 14-under-par 274. Yeh ended a disappointing equal 24th after posting his worst round this week with a three-over-par 75.
"I’ve won three times previously on Tour but all of them were in India. So, it’s good to finally win one outside my country. My fellow players were telling me that I had to get the monkey off my back and I’m glad all doubts have been finally put aside," said Randhawa, winner of the 1998 and 1999 Hero Honda Masters in Delhi.
"I’ve come close a few times with some seconds and thirds outside India but I know what the secret is now – I’ve got to bring my new wife to tournaments abroad! I’ve felt so at home with her around on the golf course and in the hotel this week, and emotionally, it’s helped a lot. I used to get homesick but if I miss her now, I’ll just look for her in the gallery and I’ll then get a smile," added a jubilant Randhawa, with new bride Tina by his side.
Four birdies on the front nine and a brilliant three wood tee shot at the 294-yard par four 10th hole, which set up a 20-foot eagle putt, virtually sealed the tournament for Randhawa. After draining the eagle putt, his lead soared from four to six strokes over Johl. A lone bogey at the 14th did not matter as none of his rivals challenged him down the stretch.
The 37-year-old Buhrmann was resigned to being second at the Singapore Open again after finishing runner-up in 1998 as well. But he paid tribute to Randhawa. "Mentally, he’s such a strong guy and I wasn’t up to the job.
"I was unlucky as I hit some great putts that didn’t drop. After he went seven-up on me at 10, it was over. Not even Tiger (Woods) would have caught him as he was playing so steadily," said Buhrmann, who finished his round with a 15-foot birdie for a 69 and 17-under-par 271 total.
Rosales, who shattered his own course record with a 62 in the third round, exchanged the early blows with Randhawa to captivate the large galleries. The young Filipino birdied the first and third holes to tie the Indian star but each time, Randhawa showed his class by replying with birdies of his own at the second and fourth holes to keep the advantage.
A missed putt for birdie from three feet at the fifth proved costly as Rosales’ title hopes soon faded. "After missing that easy birdie chance on five, I didn’t make any other putts. And then Jyoti eagled the 10th which virtually killed us. He played great. I’m happy to finish joint third but sad that I didn’t play better," said Rosales.
Randhawa also paid tribute to his coach Kel Lwellyn, who was at the tournament the whole week. "He sorted me out after a slow opening 72 and I owe it to him. Patience was the key this week and he kept reminding me to keep at it. When the opportunities came today, I just took it.
"I hit some really great putts which turned things around for me. At the eighth, I holed a tricky downhill five-foot putt and then had another birdie at the ninth from 15 feet which I could not believe had gone in. After making eagle at 10, I took my foot off as no one made a run at me," he said.
Leading final scores
268: Jyoti Randhawa (Ind) 72-64-65-67
271: Hendrik Buhrmann (Rsa) 66-66-70-69
274: Simon Dyson (Eng) 73-66-70-65, Amandeep Johl (Ind) 68-68-69-69, Charlie Wi (Kor) 69- 68-67-70, Gerald Rosales (Phi) 69-71-62-72
275: Pablo Del Olmo (Mex) 70-68-69-68, Ted Purdy (Usa) 67-68-68-72, Mardan Mamat (Sin) 67-69-70-69, Kang Wook-soon (Kor) 69-70-70-66
276: Des Terblanche (Rsa) 71-69-68-68, Prayad Marksaeng (Tha) 67-72-71-66
277: Arjun Atwal (Ind) 68-70-68-71
278: Wayne Bradley (Rsa) 74-65-69-70, Mo Joong-kyung (Kor) 71-67-70-70, Ahmad Bateman (Usa) 68-67-71-72
279: Richard Kaplan (Rsa) 74-68-67-70, Yang Yong-eun (Kor) 70-69-70-70
280: Simon Yates (Sco) 72-66-71-71, Marciano Pucay (Phi) 72-67-69-72, Danny Zarate (Phi) 69-69-66-76, Ross Bain (Sco) 68-70-70-72, Chung Joon (Kor) 71-72-69-68
281: Craig Kamps (Rsa) 75-65-67-74, Lam Chih Bing (Sin) 70-68-73-70, Hsieh Yu-shu (Twn) 70- 69-75-67, Yeh Wei-tze (Twn) 69-70-67-75, Rodrigo Cuello (Phi) 69-72-69-71, Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 70-73-69-69