Newly-wed Indian defies her mum - and sweeps the board in Shah Alam


By LIM TEIK HUAT

SHAH ALAM: Newly-wed Smriti Mehra went against her mother's wishes. And boy, was she glad. She swept everything in sight at the US$90,000 Kosaido Malaysian Ladies Open when she became the first Indian golfer to win the title after an exciting sudden-death playoff at the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Golf Club yesterday. 

Mehra, who just got married on Monday, dashed the title hopes of Malaysian Lim Siew Ai and Thailand’s Rusee Gulyanamitta when she saved par in the sudden-death playoff on the par-four 10th hole.  

The 30-year-old Indian took home the trophy, the winner's cheque for US$12,750 and also a brand new Peugeot 307 car, costing more than RM120,000, for her hole-in-one feat on Friday. 

As icing to the cake, she also picked up an additional prize money of US$5,000 put up by Nam Fatt Corporation for the ace on the 11th hole. 

Siew Ai and Rusee, who won the first leg of the Kosaido Asia Ladies Golf Circuit in Taiwan last week, both finished with bogeys in the playoff and could only watch on helplessly as Mehra’s putt from ten feet rolled slowly into the hole. The trio had all finished with a three-day total of one-under 215. 

Japan’s Kaori Suzuki led by one stroke into the final day but blew her chances after a disastrous round of 79. Kaori had two double bogeys and eventually finished fifth best with a three-day total of 219. 

Mehra said she was glad she did not listen to her mother's advice. “She did not want me to compete here as I had just got married in Calcutta on Monday. She wanted me to go for a honeymoon with my husband (Christopher Guffin) first. 

“But I did not listen to her and arrived here two days later. She was not happy with me. But more than that, I wanted badly to compete here as I failed to do so last year. 

“Last year, I had to pull out two weeks before the competition because of a back injury. 

“I arrived here on Wednesday and did not even play in the practice round. However, I was familiar with the course as I have played here before,” said Mehra, who won the Malaysian Open title as an amateur back in 1993. 

Mehra only carded a two-over 74 in the final round yesterday and said she did not play well initially. 

However, she came charging back in the last four holes with three birdies in a row to force a sudden-death playoff. 

“I knew that I had to hit the ball harder as the rain had made the greens slippery. I am glad to have won the title this time. Winning the car was a perfect wedding gift. The title is an extra wedding bonus,” added Mehra, who is based in Florida. 

Siew Ai, meanwhile, will rue her missed chance to become the first Malaysian golfer to win the title. 

Siew Ai, the only Malaysian plying her fortunes in the US LPGA Tour, maintained her form in the final round yesterday by shooting a one-under 71. 

She was among the three golfers to card the lowest individual score of the day and improved her position from fourth to send her into the playoff game. 

“My putting was not so good and I missed some birdies along the way. I am disappointed to have come so close and not to have captured the title,” said Siew Ai, who picked up US$7,437 for finishing as runner-up. 

Despite this, the 1993 SEA Games gold medallist said she has no cause for complaint. “To finish second here is a good start to the year. It will give me the confidence to face the new season in US,” said Siew Ai, who will return to the US in March. 

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