New Delhi: The long-awaited win at the Hero Indian Open has catapulted Indian golfer SSP Chawrasia to a career-best World Ranking of 151 and also earned him a two-year European Tour Card exemption.
The 37-year-old Chawrasia rose 92 places from his ranking of 243 the week before. It was also his third European Tour win - all of them co-sanctioned with Asian Tour - and tied him with Arjun Atwal with three European Tour wins. Only Jeev Milkha Singh with four wins has more.
The win also put Chawrasia into a category earning him an exemption into the European Tour this year and following two seasons. Chawrasia earlier played as a fully exempt member from 2008 to 2014 by virtue of his earlier wins in 2008 Indian Masters and 2011 Avantha Masters. He had limited playing right in 2015 and finished 113th, narrowly missing regaining his full playing rights. But this latest win will give him the right till the end of 2018.
Chawrasia is also assured of a Olympic spot alongside India's No. 1 Anirban Lahiri, who also moved up this week, following his Tied-second place. Lahiri moved from 52nd back to exactly 50th.
Chawrasia, who missed his last three cuts on the European Tour, but finished Tied-fifth at Leopalace21 Myanmar Open on Asian Tour, moved to the fourth place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit. Chawrasia has finished in Top-6 of the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2008, 2011 and 2015.
"This win came at the right time as this year we have the Olympics and I was also trying to get my card back for the European Tour," said Chawrasia. "It was a very emotional moment after four second places over 17 years. The last two times I was second in 2013 and 2015 and I was naturally nervous going into the final.
"I spoke to Jeev (Milkha Singh) for advice and I am thankful to him for helping me handle the situation. That helped me to stay calm during the tense final round. Anirban, who is a very good friend, was always encouraging and I was touched by his gesture of applauding my third shot on the final hole. It showed what a great sportsman he is. It will be a privilege to play with him at the Olympics."
Through the week, Chawrasia gave a great display of his short game, as he needed only 103 putts for four rounds. He did not make a single three-putt and was 100 per cent in sand saves.