Honey Baisoya of Delhi ended a three-year title-drought by lifting the J&K Open at the Royal Springs Golf Course in Srinagar with an impressive total of 18-under 270 including a classy final round of four-under 68 on Saturday.
Honey was struggling even in the start of the season as he missed the cut at Hyderabad Golconda Masters and skipped Panchkula Players Championship but a change in iron, a 2-iron and a putter, brought the desired difference with first three round scores of 67, 68, and 66 here.
The six-time PGTI winner who turned pro in 2013 triumphed with four-shot lead ahead of Veer Ahlawat of Gurugram (67-71-70-66) who finished with 14-under 274 for his successive runner-up finish this season.
Honey, 25, who gained Rs 6,46,600 for his effort also took him from 85th to 22nd place in the PGTI Order of Merit.
Aman Raj (68-71-70-66) of Patna too shot a 66 on the fourth and final day to take third place at 13-under 275.
Honey, the overnight leader by four shots, had a nervy start on the final round picking birdies only in seventh and ninth while he made some tough par putts from five to six feet on the first six holes.
At the same time Angad Cheema of Panchkula with four birdies on the front-nine was putting pressure on the leader.
Honey dropped his first bogey of the tournament when he three-putted on the 13th. That reduced his lead over Veer to just two shots. However, Honey made a final push for victory with birdies on the 14th and 15th as a result of some long conversions thanks to his new putter. The Delhi lad landed his approach from 134 yards to within a foot to set up another birdie on the 17th that all but sealed the deal for him.
“It still feels like a dream because till last week I was very low on confidence and not even sure of shooting an under-par score. So this win is all the more special. Normally I’m a very aggressive player but with the confidence not being up there I tried to play more conservatively than I usually do. I used the 2-iron a lot and struck it to perfection all week. I also didn’t make mistakes on the green like I had done in preceding events. The goal this week was to make the cut and I ended up winning. So it’s still sinking in,” said Honey after lifting the trophy.
“I was two-under on the front-nine when Angad (Cheema) was playing really well. When he made birdie on the 10th, I was just two shots ahead and two shots mean nothing in a pressure situation in the final round. When Angad found the water on the 11th the pressure eased up for me,” said the champion who last lifted a trophy was in 2018 – the Delhi-NCR Open.
Veer’s last round included an eagle-two on the par-4 11th hole where he found the hole with his approach from 108 yards. He also made five birdies and a bogey to gain six spots in round four and is perched third in the Order of Merit.
Aman Raj’s 66, featuring seven birdies and a bogey, lifted him seven places to third position. Om Prakash Chouhan (66) of Mhow and Angad (70) shared fourth place at 12-under 276.
Chiragh Kumar (67) of Delhi finished a further shot back in sixth place at 11-under 277.
Viraj Madappa of Kolkata shot the day’s lowest score of 65 to secure tied seventh along with Kartik Sharma (72) of Gurugram at 10-under 278.
Shravan Desai, who was overnight tied second, posted a career-best tied ninth at nine-under 279.
Udayan Mane of Pune took tied 25th place at three-under 285 while Chikkarangappa of Bengaluru, the last winner at Royal Springs Golf Course eight years ago, finished tied 32nd at one-under 287.
Indian golf legend Jyoti Randhawa ended the week in tied 46th at five-over 293.