HYDERABAD: Gurugram’s Manu Gandas put up a stoic performance on the final day to lift his maiden professional trophy at the Golconda Masters Telangana Open 2021 Presented by Vooty & Haldi at the Hyderabad Golf Association (HGA) course.
Gandas (64-58-64-64), the overnight leader by five shots, turned in a card of two-under 64 featuring four birdies and two bogeys to end up with a tournament tally of 22-under 250 and thus prevail by an impressive three strokes at the Rs. 40 lakh event which marked the resumption of the 2020-21 PGTI season after a six-month forced break due to Covid.
The 25-year-old Gandas collected a cheque worth Rs. 6,46,600 to move up from eighth to fourth in the PGTI Order of Merit. His total earnings for the season now read Rs. 24,12,350.
Chandigarh’s Karandeep Singh Kochhar (67-64-63-59), shot the day’s best score of seven-under 59 to jump three spots and finish runner-up at 19-under 253. The 22-year-old Kochhar has now further extended his lead in the PGTI Order of Merit as his season’s earnings stand at Rs. 42,95,130.
Bengaluru’s Chikkarangappa (67-63-61-63), the 2019 winner, ended third at 18-under 254 following a final round score of three-under 63.
The heavy rain over the past three days resulted in waterlogging in certain parts of the HGA course. As a result, Hole No. 2 was reduced from Par-4 to Par-3, Hole No. 6 was reduced from Par-5 to Par-3, Hole No. 8 was reduced from Par-5 to Par-4, and Hole No. 18 was reduced from Par-4 to Par-3. Hole No. 3 was reverted back to its original Par-4. Therefore, the par for the course in round four was 66 instead of the regular 71.
Manu Gandas began the day with a early bogey on the second and then missed birdie putts from a range of 10 feet on three occasions on the front-nine. After a quiet first half of the day, Manu still comfortably ahead of the rest, began the march to his first title with birdies on the 10th and 11th.
A few missed birdie opportunities followed on the 13th, 14th and 15th but the golfer from the DLF Golf & Country Club made up with a couple of long-range birdie conversions on the 16th and 17th. He finally went on to win by three shots despite the closing bogey on the 18th.
Gandas, who has now posted six top-10s in the current season, said, “I feel relieved and happy to have finally won a title after coming close on a few occasions before. I’ve waited a long time for this. The way I was playing this season, I knew that a win was just around the corner.
“My ball-striking has been at its best this year and psychologically my process has been more concrete. I was comfortable through the day and the early setbacks didn’t really bother me as I knew that I will create birdie chances for myself later in the round. I didn’t see the scoreboard too often and was just focusing on my own game.“This win gives me tremendous confidence going ahead. I would like to thank my family for all their support and my coach Anitya Chand for his guidance.”
Karandeep Kochhar’s flawless round, the lowest of the day, saw him make all greens in regulation. The two-time winner this season sank a 30-feet birdie on the 15th and landed his tee shot within two feet of the pin for a tap-in birdie on the 18th.
Karandeep, who continues as the PGTI Order of Merit leader, said, “I’m very proud of my effort as I didn’t get any practice in the 10 days prior to this event because I was unwell. A runner-up finish in that context is special.”
Bengaluru’s Khalin Joshi (61) and Noida’s Amardeep Malik (65) claimed tied fourth place at 16-under 256.
Local professional Mohammad Azhar finished tied 24th at five-under 267.
Hyderabad’s Milind Soni won the trophy for the best performance by an amateur as he ended tied 38th at one-under 271. Tej Gangavarapu, the other Hyderabad-based amateur to make the cut, closed the week in 51st place at five-over 277.