RODGERS RALLIES TO PAKISTAN OPEN GOLF TITLE
"I am in absolute dreamland as this is my maiden Asian Tour title and I will cherish this win for a long time."
By SHAHID HASHMI
Jan 30 - Feb 05, 2006
Chris Rodgers of England claimed his maiden Asian Tour title with a victory at the US$200,000 Pakistan Open - and established himself as one of the leading players on the Asian Tour.
Rodgers, 29, who led by three strokes overnight, was unshakable as he closed in with an even-par 72 to a four-day total of 15 under-par 273 at the Karachi Golf Club. The London-born golfer held his game despite mounting pressure from Indian duo of Amandeep Johl and Jeev Milkha Singh whom finished tied second four strokes off the pace. Filipino ace Frankie Minoza charged up the leaderboard when he shot a superb 65 and ended the tournament on 279 in tied fourth position alongside Malaysia's Iain Steel.
"I am in absolute dreamland as this is my maiden Asian Tour title and I will cherish this win for a long time," said the champion. Local hero Muhammed Munir, who was in tied second position after the third round on Saturday, slipped on the final day after a 75 as he finished six strokes off the pace. Similarly for Welshman Mark Mouland who was in contention but dropped nine spots to tied 11th after poor 78. "I did not putt well the entire round. This is certainly not my day but there is always another time and place and I hope to be in top form then," said Munir.
Rodgers, meanwhile, successfully fended off a late charge by the Indian duo through birdies on the second before a bogey on the third. He had a rollercoaster run with a birdie on the fifth hole but went on to bogey the seventh and ninth holes. A birdie on the 11th, bogey on the 12th and a final birdie on the 15th sealed his win. "My outing at Asian Tour Qualifying School spurred me on to success today and I am very happy to have carried my momentum right through to the final day," said a beaming Rodgers, who won the Asian Tour Qualifying School title last week in Malaysia.
Former Indian national champion Johl made a late comeback with five birdies and three bogeys with a similar feat by Singh, a multiple winner in Asia. "I had a great caddy, nicknamed Ninja who was very sharp as he helped me tremendously today," said Johl, who won the 1993 Nepal Open. A good end for me in Pakistan especially after a very nice long 50-foot putt on the 13th hole for a birdie, he said. It was a creditable performance by Rodgers who was a whisker away from success after the Carlsberg Masters Vietnam last November where he finished second best. It was also an amazing final round for Minoza who is one of Asia's best-known golfers and a multiple winner in Japan. The 47-year-old birdied the fifth and sixth holes before blazing past the back nine with five consecutive birdies on the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th holes. He enjoyed a bogey-free round and ended with an impressive 65. Steel, first timer to the Asian Tour was pleased with his result in Pakistan as he carded a 71. "I finished in the top ten and quite satisfied with my overall performance. Will definitely press on hard and strive for better results in future events," said Steel.
Pakistan's second ranked golfer Mohamed Shabbir Iqbal was tied 11th after an even par for the day alongside Sri Lanka's Anura Rohana who finished with a 70.
Leading third round scores 273 - Chris Rodgers (ENG) 69-64-68-72 277 - Jeev Milkha Singh (IND) 68-69-71-69, Amandeep Johl (IND) 68-67-73-69 279 - Frankie Minoza (PHI) 72-73-69-65, Iain Steel (MAS) 73-66-69-71, Muhammed Munir (PAK) 70-68-66-75 280 - Jochen Lupprian (GER) 72-68-70-70, Ashok Kumar (IND) 68-70-70-72 281 - Marcus Both (AUS) 70-71-71-69, Barry Hume (SCO) 70-72-66-73 282 - Arjun Singh (IND) 69-69-75-69, Anura Rohana (SRI) 71-70-71-70, Shabbir Iqbal (PAK) 70-67-73-72, Imdad Hussain (PAK) 68-72-71-71, Matloob Ahmed (PAK) 70-70-70-72, Mark Mouland (WAL) 68-65-71-78 283 - Simon Hurd (ENG) 73-72-68-70, Unho Park (AUS) 71-69-72-71, Digvijay Singh (IND) 71-69-70-73, Akinori Tani (JPN) 69-72-68-74, 284 - Felix Casas (PHI) 76-68-71-69, Richard Moir (AUS) 73-69-71-71 285 - Sushi Ishigaki (JPN) 71-72-73-69, Olle Nordberg (SWE) 69-75-71-70, Mardan Mamat (SIN) 76-67-71-71, Vivek Bhandari (IND) 72-70-71-72, Brad Kennedy (AUS) 73-67-73-72, Jeremy Kavanagh (ENG) 70-69-73-73 286 - Zaw Moe (MYN) 74-71-71-70, Daniel Wardrop (ENG) 74-70-70-72, Yasin Ali (ENG) 74-71-68-73 287 - Anthony Kang (USA) 72-73-72-70, Mohammad Siddique (PAK) 75-71-70-71, Rahil Gangjee (IND) 72-71-72-72, Lee Rhind (SCO) 70-72-72-73