Gangjee was tied with Korea’s Hyungsung Kim on 13-under going into the 18th and the final hole
Osaka: Diminutive but cheerful at all times, Rahil Gangjee ended a 14-year drought between his first title that came in May 2004 and the second that came on Sunday with a birdie on the finishing hole.
The win brought Gangjee a lot of benefits, including a winner’s cheque of over US $ 283,000 plus a bonus of US $ 50,000 for finishing second on the Panasonic Swing behind winner, Shiv Kapur (who got $ 70,000). Gangjee also gets two-year exemptions into Asian and Japan Tours.
The 39-year-old Gangjee won his maiden Asian Tour title on just his eighth start on the Tour back in 2004, has in the period since finished second three times, third another three times and had a total of 22 Top-10s, was a relieved man, as he birdied the 18th and final after coming to the 18th tee in shared lead with Korea’s 37-year-old Kim Hyungsung (70). Hwang Junggon (66), who had finished a group ahead, had set the clubhouse target of 13-under with a 5-under 66 that included a birdie-birdie finish.
Earlier this year Gangjee had to pulled out of Myanmar and Singapore events because of a stomach bug, so this win makes up for all those. Gangjee became the third Indian after Jyoti Randhawa (Suntory Open 2003), Jeev Milkha Singh (2 in 2006 and 2 in 2008) to win a Japan Tour title. Last year Ajeetesh Sandhu won a 36-hole event on Japan Challenge Tour.
An emotional Gangjee said, “Everyone played their part in helping me out, the caddie, the mother, the father, the wife, friends. But more than anything else, you have to want it. And that has kept me going.”
“My heart rate was up especially when I got to the green and I knew I had to get up and down. That’s where my heart started racing and my mind started going all over the place. That was the chance I had to convert. My third shot out of the bunker was not really a tough shot,” Ganjee added.