Kuala Lumpur, Mar 9: Arjun Atwal got a huge monkey off his back after edging out defending champion Peter Hedblom of Sweden in a gripping play-off to win his second Malaysian Open title in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.
This was for the second month in a row that an Indian laid his fingers on an European Tour title. Fellow Kolkata pro SSP Chowrasia had won the Indian Masters at the Delhi Golf Club last month.
Recently exonerated from vehicular homicide charges from a road accident in Orlando last year, Atwal on Sunday played like a man possessed and birdied half the holes in a sizzling round of 64 to join Hedblom at 18-under 270 to force a playoff.
There on the second extra hole, Hedblom three-putted for a bogey, while Atwal held his nerve and sank a four-footer at the short 17th to clinch the title.
This was Atwal's third European Tour title and the Indian pocketed Euro 219,483 for his exploits.
Apart from his two Malaysian Open titles, Atwal had also won the 2002 Caltex Singapore Masters.
Atwal also came close to equal Simon Yates' 1999 course record of nine-under 63 at the venue.
Among other Indians in the fray, Jyoti Randhawa (273) carded 71 for his share of the sixth place, while Gaurav Ghei (280) signed off with 70 to be tied 37th.
SSP Chowrasia (282) needed a solid round for a top 10 finish but the Kolkata pro stuttered to a final round of 74, his worst card of the week, to finish tied 46th.
Atwal, however, had no such worry.
After rounds of 70, 68 and 68, he seemed to have reserved his best for the final day and the lone dropped shot on the third hole was the only blot in an otherwise perfect card of the Indian who hardly put a foot wrong on Sunday.
Atwal got off to a birdie-birdie start and though the third hole bogey snapped the streak, he looked simply irresistible.
A spectacular birdie binge -- he blasted nine of them in his round -- catapulted Atwal to the top of the leaderboard and the lightning and storm that hit the Kota Permai Golf and Country Club resulting in a two-and-half hours' delay could not snap his rhythm.
"It is an amazing feeling," a beaming Atwal said after the round.
"I don't know how to put it into words. To come here and win this title twice now is incredible. In the play-off I thought Peter was in trouble off the tee but he played an amazing recovery and that put the pressure on me," he said.
"I didn't think I had a chance starting out and just relaxed from the first hole. It was only on the 11th that I felt I had a chance. It is incredible," he said.