Edinburgh (Scotland): Harjai Milkha Singh won the top honours in the Boys 13 category at the US Kids Golf European Championships.
The 13-year-old son of Jeev Milkha Singh, Harjai shot a final round of 3-under 69 in an action-packed round that began with two birdies and ended with two bogeys. Yet, with seven birdies against four bogeys, Harjai beat his closest opponent by two shots.
Harjai’s win at the Royal Musselburgh Golf Club capped a great week for the Indian squad, which saw another Chandigarh lad, Nihal Cheema finish second in Boys Under-7 at Longniddry Golf Club.
Gurgaon golfer Mahreen Bhatia closed with an eagle to finish second in Girls 13-14, also at Royal Musselburgh.
Bengaluru’s Adit Veeramachaneni was fourth in. Boys 9 category, while Vihaan Jain was tied-fifth in Boys 13 and Arshvant Srivastava rose with 3-under 69 to finish seventh in the same section. Ananyaa Sood was fifth in Girls 12 and Naina Kapoor was tied-eighth among Girls 11.
India has won two seconds, three other Top-5 finishers and two more in Top-10. Overall, of the 16 Indians who teed up during the week at five famous Scottish golf courses, eight players finished in Top-8 or better. All three Indian girls were in Top-10.
The toast of the Indian contingent was Harjai Milkha Singh, whose father, Jeev Milkha Singh, won the iconic Scottish Open in 2012. It was in the UK in 1958 that Harjai’s grandfather, the Late Milkha Singh, won India’s first-ever athletics gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales. So, Harjai has carried on a glorious family tradition in sports.
Harjai’s father, Jeev Milkha, is a multiple winner on European, Japan and Asia Tours. After turning 50 last year, Jeev now plays on the Seniors Tours in Europe, Japan and occasionally in the US, for players over 50 years of age.
After rounds of 72-70 on the first two days, Harjai opened with a pair of birdies on the first two holes in the final round. He bogeyed the third, birdied the fifth and then bogeyed seventh and birdied eighth as he turned in 2-under. His closest rival Jordan Botha, who started the final day two behind was now three behind with the final nine to go.
Both Harjai and Botha picked up momentum on the back nine. Harjai birdied 12th, 13th, and 16th to go 5-under for the day. Botha responded with birdies on 13-14-15 to get to 2-under for the day but the gap was five shots with two holes to play. The Indian youngster wobbled with a bogey-bogey finish and Botha managed a birdie on 17 but the winning margin for Harjai was still a handy two shots.
Nihal Cheema starting the final day two shots behind Thailand-based Sean Wilding remained two behind as both players shot 3-over 39 in the final nine round for the Under 7 category. Cheema, unable to find any birdie on the last day, finished sole second.
Mahreen Bhatia, who shared the first round lead, had four birdies and three bogeys in the first 14 holes. After three more pars, she closed in style with an eagle in Par-5 18th to finish second behind American Amy Burton, who totalled 9-under 207 to the Indian’s 3-under 213.
Boys Under 7 (Longniddry GC – 9 holes): 2nd Nihaal Cheema 36-32-39 (-1)
Boys 8 (Longniddry GC – 9 holes): T-20 Sahib Ajula 42-39-41
Boys 9 (Musselburgh GC) 4th Adit Veeramachaneni (72-72-75) 219 (+3)
T-13 Siddhant Sharma (80-76-76)
Boys 10 (Craigielaw GC): T-16 Vidit Aggarwal 75-83-80; T-46 Aarnav Patel 95-89-99
Boys 11 (Craigielaw GC): 47th Paranjaay Mahtani 102-98-94
Boys 12 (Glen Golf Club): T-31 Devvrat Singh Rajawat 82-84-74; 36th Rayan Sao (80-80-83);
Boys 13 (Royal Musselburgh GC): 1st Harjai Milkha Singh 72-70-69 (-5);
T-5 Vihaan Jain (73-72-73) 218 (+2); 7th Arshvant Srivastava 75-75-69 (+3)
Boys 15-18 (Musselburgh GC): 11tth Manyaveer Bhadoo 82-81-76
Girls 11 (Royal Musselburgh GC): 8th Naina Kapoor (81-75-79)
Girls 12 (Glen Golf Club): 5th Ananyaa Sood (77-75-79)
Girls 13-14 (Royal Musselburgh GC): 2nd Mahreen Bhatia 69-75-69 (-3)