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    Default Ashbeer wins all-India junior golf event

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    Late bogeys on the card almost turned the round sour for Ashbeer Saini, but the Kapurthala lad managed to do just enough to get the New Year off to a bright start with a win in the Lalit Suri All-India Junior Golf Championship, played at the par-71 Poona Club Golf Course Friday.

    Starting the day with a seven-shot lead, Ashbeer shot his poorest round of the week, but still eked out a one-shot win after returning a card of ten-over 81, which gave him a tournament total of 12-over 296.

    Bangalore's Khalin Joshi almost caught up with Ashbeer but a three-putt from just off the green on the final hole cost him the chance to take the tie into a playoff. Khalin carded a round of four-over 75 and had to be content with a runner-up finish at 13-over 297.

    Manu Gandas held on for a wire-to-wire win in Category B (U-15), holding on to the top spot through the tournament and winning with a final round of 12-over 83, to total 30-over for the tournament, two shots better than second-placed Aman Raj.

    Piyush Sangwan completed a memorable double as the Category C (U-12) player followed up his Lalit Suri Western India title last week with another win. He carded a round of nine-over 80 to finish one shot better than overnight leader Feroze Garewal who fell back with a round of 83.

    Category D (U-10) witnessed an exciting end, as both Jaiveer Singh and Karandeep Kochhar were on top after 18 holes on the final day. A playoff ensued and it was Jaiveer who prevented Karandeep from completing his double as he came through to win on the first playoff hole.

    While the juniormost category saw a very close finish, it wasn't expected to be that tight in Category A, as Ashbeer went into the final day with a seemingly unassailable seven-shot lead. Despite a five-over 40 on the front-nine, Ashbeer still enjoyed a cushion of five strokes. He consolidated on that lead with a birdie on the short par-4 10th but after that his game suddenly came apart.

    A string of bogeys, whittled down his lead to just three shots going into the last two holes. A double bogey on the par-4 17th, reduced the margin to just two shots. Despite the scare, it looked like he had done enough to clinch the title but more drama followed on the final hole with Ashbeer making bogey again and giving Khalin a shot at redemption.

    With his second shot almost making it on to the green, Khalin needed to negotiate a tricky downhill putt, and two putts from there would have been good enough to get into a playoff with Ashbeer.

    But after having secured a thrilling win earlier in the season, where he came back with three consecutive birdies on the last three holes to beat Ashbeer, a late charge was not going to repeat itself. His first putt went by a few feet and he missed the return putt to settle with a par, finishing one behind the eventual winner.


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