Sentosa - Khalin Joshi is a relieved man, having finally secured his maiden victory in front of a roaring home crowd at the Panasonic Open India in what was his sixth try since the event was inaugurated in 2011.
The 26-year-old Indian emerged victorious from an enthralling final day battle after firing four birdies in his closing five holes to edge out Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh, who was his closest rival for the title, and win by one shot.
“You know I am really relieved and really happy. I have come close a few times and a lot of my friends have won this season. To finally seal the deal on home soil is a huge monkey off my back. I have no words to describe how I am feeling,” said Joshi, who became the 13th first-time winner this season.
Joshi’s conservative approach has served him well at the Panasonic Open India, where he made the cut in three of the past five editions. This year though, he changed his strategy to great effect.
“This year I played very different from the previous years. I have seen many of the past champions going for it in two shots on the par fives, but I have always just taken a more measured approach. You know, that’s all I did this week, stuck to my game plan and played aggressively and that’s what paid off,” added the Indian star, who moved up to 16th position on the Habitat for Humanity Standings from a previous 23rd place.
The Bengaluru-based Joshi has come a long way since 2016 when he failed to stay inside the top-60 to secure his Asian Tour card. He took a trip back to Qualifying School for the fourth time in 2017 where he would miss the grade in the final stage.
Joshi managed to overcome his disappointment and marked three top-10 finishes that year which included a runner-up finish at the TAKE Solutions Masters, to eventually take 52nd position on the Merit ranks and gain full playing right for the 2018 season.
The Indian was quick to ease off the pressure of retaining his card this year with a tied-fifth finish at the Maybank Championship in February. Since then, he has erased any lingering doubts in his ability, and has been playing with a noticeably different winning mindset.
“Securing my spot for 2019 on the Asian Tour means a lot, because I no longer have to worry about doing enough just to keep my card. Now I can play to win, with a clear mind,” said Joshi.
With the Asian Tour heading into the busy end of the schedule starting with the tri-sanctioned Honma Hong Kong Open presented by Amundi in November, Joshi will have to keep his foot on the gas pedal as continues to display the form of an Asian Tour winner.
“Winning my first Asian Tour event here means the world to me. Winning anyway was great but winning at Delhi Golf club was unbelievable. I have four big weeks coming up after this. I am going to go back work on my game and come back fresh for the Honma Hong Kong Open,” said Joshi.
With the conclusion of the WGC-HSBC Champions that was held in conjunction with the Panasonic Open India, the top-10 on the Habitat for Humanity Standings remain the same as the Tour heads to Hong Kong and Melbourne for the ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf in three weeks' time.
Top-20 players on the Habitat for Humanity Standings
Pos Player Order of Merit
1 Shubhankar SHARMA (IND) $695,993.55
2 Sanghyun PARK (KOR) $561,898.62
3 Matt WALLACE (ENG) $446,660.00
4 Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) $422,936.53
5 Scott VINCENT (ZIM) $420,887.60
6 Justin HARDING (RSA) $395,977.88
7 John CATLIN (USA) $383,132.18
8 Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) $372,480.89
9 Sihwan KIM (USA) $341,763.77
10 Yuta IKEDA (JPN) $338,671.47
11 Rahil GANGJEE (IND) $302,628.50
12 Minchel CHOI (KOR) $286,555.97
13 Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA) $253,308.97
14 Berry HENSON (USA) $253,020.60
15 Paul PETERSON (USA) $241,148.57
16 Khalin JOSHI (IND) $222,432.42
17 Adilson DA SILVA (BRA) $221,440.05
18 Shaun NORRIS (RSA) $201,156.39
19 Prom MEESAWAT (THA) $189,611.13
20 Danthai BOONMA (THA) $173,358.05