Noida, Sep 17 : Lakhmehar Pardesi gave herself an early birthday present as she claimed a breakthrough maiden title in the 9th leg of the Hero Women's Pro Golf Tour here on Friday. The Chandigarh golfer, who turns 22 on October 15, stayed calm in the closing stages after trailing for most part of the final day.
Needing a clutch putt from around eight feet to ensure an outright win over Jahanvi Bakshi, Lakhmehar drained the putt and heaved a sigh of relief. Her previous best on the Tour was a fifth place and she said, "This is a big win for me." Lakhmehar carded 2-over 74 in the final round to total 227, while Jahanvi (75) was one behind at 228.
Amateur Avani Prashanth, who has regularly figured in contention, was once again the top amateur and was overall third at 230. Avani had the best round of the day at even par 72. Avani shared the third spot with Hitaashee Bakshi (76). For Avani, this was the sixth top amateur prize in 12 starts on the WPG Tour. Of the six times, she was once the overall winner.
The lanky Lakhmehar, who has worked on physical fitness and the short game, was in a tie with the normally consistent Jahanvi when play began on the final day. As conditions continued to be difficult, the golfers were spared any rain stoppages.
Lakhmehar went into sole lead on the very first hole as Jahanvi dropped a shot on the Par-5 first. However, the Chandigarh golfer gave back that advantage with a bogey on fourth. She then dropped shots on seventh and eighth, even as Jahanvi picked a birdie on eighth. At the turn, Jahanvi had built up a three-shot lead.
On the 11th, Lakhmehar bogeyed but Jahanvi double bogeyed and the gap narrowed to two. Then Lakhmehar nailed two fine birdies in a row on 13th and 14th to get into a share of the lead once again.
Jahanvi bogeyed the Par-17th while Lakhmehar holed a crucial par putt to move ahead.
On the 18th, Jahanvi was just off the green, but she rolled it in for par from almost 10 feet. That left Lakhmehar needing to hole the 8-footer for an outright win or go into a play-off. She parred and took the title.
"I have been waiting for this for a long time. I am so grateful to my coaches, parents and the NOIDA Golf Club," said the youngster.
Avani, who had two disappointing days with 78-80 in tough conditions, was in excellent form on the final day. She birdied first, ninth and 18th but dropped shots on sixth, seventh and 12th.
Shweta Mansingh was sixth, while amateur Nishna Patel was seventh and Trimann Saluja was eighth. Siddhi Kapoor, the top pro last week, was ninth. The 10th spot was shared by amateur Rishika Muralidhar, Saaniya Sharma and Seher Atwal.
The Tour now takes a break for four weeks and action resumes on October 13 with the tenth leg at the Chandigarh Golf Club.