PANCHKULA: Chikkarangappa S. kept his best for the last as he shot a final round of seven-under 65, the day’s joint best score, to emerge victorious by two shots at the TATA Steel PGTI Players Championship presented by Govt. of Haryana & Panchkula Golf Club (PGC).
The 27-year-old Bengalurian (69-65-69-65), who began the day in third place, three shots off the lead, put up a determined performance on the last day to end up with a total of 20-under 268, two shots ahead of the rest at the Rs. 50 lakh event. The former PGTI Order of Merit champion had nine birdies and a double-bogey to show on his card as he wrapped up his 15th career title and 14th win on the PGTI.
Gurugram’s Veer Ahlawat (67-62-71-70), the leader for the last two days, was unable to hold on to his overnight two-shot lead as he fired a 70 to finish runner-up at 18-under 270 on a day that witnessed a constant light drizzle.
Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (72-67-66-67) had the best result among the Tricity golfers. The 24-year-old Chandigarh lad struck a 67 on Saturday to take third place at 16-under 272.
Chikkarangappa made an early charge in round four when he drained long birdie putts on the first and third and then produced a great approach on the fifth and accurate chips on the sixth and seventh to collect five birdies on the first seven holes and draw level with leader Ahlawat.
Chikka, who represented India at the World Cup of Golf in 2016, then suffered a setback with a double-bogey on the eighth where he found the trees twice. But the two-time winner on the Asian Development Tour came roaring back with two tremendous drives on the 11th and 12th that resulted in birdies and helped him restore parity with Veer.
Chikka’s then excelled with his chipping and putting on the last six holes extracting birdies on the 15th and 16th that propelled him into the sole lead. He finally saw it home and picked up a cheque of Rs. 8,08,250 to consolidate himself in second position in the PGTI Order of Merit.
Chikka’s final round 65 was the day’s joint best score as Panchkula’s Angad Cheema and Chandigarh’s Ravi Kumar too shot the same number. Cheema took tied 12th at 10-under 278 while Ravi ended tied 21st at five-under 283.
“I putted really well today and my sharp short-game on the last six holes made all the difference. Making those two birdies on the 15th and 16th was the turning point as it gave me the lead.
“I’ve been in contention at Panchkula Golf Club on several occasions in the past having played in the leader group on the final day virtually every time in the last few years. But somehow I never won here. So I’m glad to finally have a win at PGC,” said Chikka, who also had a third place finish on the PGTI last week.
He added, “I enjoy being under the gun. That seems to bring the best out of me. I always pull out great shots when I’m under pressure. That’s exactly what happened today. Two top finishes in back-to-back weeks is a great morale-booster going ahead.”
Veer Ahlawat, playing his first event in six months, made 17 greens in regulation in the final round but his putts didn’t find the hole just like round three. Veer made three birdies and a bogey during his 70 on Saturday. Ahlawat earned a cheque worth Rs. 5,58,250 to move up from eighth to fifth position on the PGTI’s money list.
Yuvraj Singh Sandhu’s eagle on the sixth was accompanied by five birdies and two bogeys as he sealed third place, four shots behind the winner.
Noida’s Amardeep Malik (71) closed the week in fourth place at 15-under 273 to record a second consecutive top-5. He made an eagle, two birdies and three bogeys.
Chandigarh golfer Ranjit Singh (68) took fifth place at 14-under 274.
Karandeep Kochhar of Chandigarh finished tied sixth at 13-under 275 along with Gurugram’s Kartik Sharma and Om Prakash Chouhan of Mhow. Kochhar continues to maintain his lead in the PGTI Order of Merit with season’s earnings of Rs. 44,48,380.
Chandigarh’s Bishmadpal Singh Seerha, the lone amateur to make the cut, took the honours for the best performance by an amateur after his finished tied 36th at two-under 286.