Neha wins first leg of Hero Women's Golf Tour

Kolkata, Jan 31 (IANS) Neha Tripathi managed to keep Smriti Mehra at bay despite a card of five-over 77 to win the Hero Women's Professional Golf Tour (WGAI) here Thursday.

After a tight error-filled front nine, Neha totalled 226 to finish three clear of Smriti Mehra (76) and five ahead of Vani Kapoor (76).

It was a good start for Neha, who went through 2012 without a win and was ranked fourth in the Order of Merit. Neha's last win came in the 2011-12 season. Overall it was Neha's third title on the WGAI Tour, which started in 2009-10.

Smriti, a 16-time winner on WGAI, was second at 229 and Vani ended third at 231. Rani Sonti (76) was fourth at 239 and Ankita Tiwana (79) was fifth.

Neha, who started the day four ahead of Smriti, parred the first two holes, even as Smriti had a bogey-double bogey start, extending Neha's lead to seven shots. When Neha double bogeyed the third and Smriti birdied the same, there was a three-shot swing to reduce the lead to four for Neha. Smriti eagled the fourth and Neha birdied it but the gap was now down to three.

Neha gave Smriti a further opportunity as she dropped another double bogey on sixth and a bogey on seventh before picking a birdie on ninth. Smriti parred from fifth to ninth and turned in 36 as compared to Neha's 39, reducing the lead to just one shot.

Then Smriti lapsed into a series of errors with four bogeys on back nine, while Neha managed to limit the damage with just two bogeys and emerged a winner by three shots.

Vani bogeyed three times in last four holes to drop from a possible second place to third with a card 76. In all Vani had two birdies and six bogeys.

The second leg of the 12-event Tour will be held at Tollygunge Club from Feb 4-7, followed by the third leg in BPGC, Mumbai Feb 25-28.

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