Udayan Mane reignites season with win at Delhi-NCR Open

Shivendra Singh Sisodia’s sensational birdie-eagle finish earns him career-best tied second finish; Chikkarangappa and Aman Raj also claim tied second

GURUGRAM: Pune’s Udayan Mane, who had been struggling to find his ‘A’ game since the resumption of the tour in November last year, finally reignited his season with a two-shot victory at the Prometheus School Presents Delhi-NCR Open Golf Championship 2021 being played at the Golden Greens Golf Club in Gurugram.

The 30-year-old Mane clinched his 11th title on the PGTI after he totaled 14-under-274 to prevail by two strokes at the Rs. 30 lakh event. Udayan’s third title of the 2020-21 PGTI season will help him make a big push up the world rankings from his current 320th position and as a result also boost his chances in the Tokyo Olympics qualification race.

Gurugram-based Shivendra Singh Sisodia, playing at his home course, secured a career-best tied second place at 12-under-276 after a sensational birdie-eagle finish on the last two holes helped the 31-year-old put up a score of 66.

Bengaluru’s Chikkarangappa (68) and Patna’s Aman Raj (69) also took a share of second place. Chandigarh’s Karandeep Kochhar (67) claimed fifth place at 11-under-277 to maintain his lead in the PGTI Order of Merit. Sandeep Singh of Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan, shot the day’s best score of seven-under-65 to finish tied ninth at eight-under-280.

Udayan Mane (71-67-67-69), the overnight leader by one shot, had a hot start to the day with two birdies on the first three holes which saw him play a couple of good wedge shots. Udayan then made some good putts which didn’t roll in but he still hung on to his lead.

On the par-5 18th, Mane sank a crucial 10-feet birdie putt to seal the deal even as playing partner Aman Raj missed his eagle putt from the same distance. The win is a shot in the arm for the big-built Udayan who will now earn five world ranking points and go past Rashid Khan (ranked 311 at the moment) to become the highest-ranked Indian when the latest Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) list is released on Monday.

Udayan had bagged the first two trophies of the 2020-21 PGTI season as part of his three match winning streak which began with season-ending event of the previous 2019 season. However, he had not been at his best since the resumption of the tour in November last year. Mane won a prize money cheque worth Rs. 4,84,950 and thus continued in third place on the PGTI Order of Merit.

Mane said, “My game-plan today was to go bogey-free, put the ball on the fairway and the green and take my two-putt. I was focused on a hot start which I did get. My good putts didn’t roll in thereafter but I decided not to let the frustration creep in. Finally, I got the very crucial birdie on the 18th.

“On the 18th, Aman’s eagle putt and my birdie putt were almost the same distance so we had to call in the referee to measure our distance from the pin in order to decide who putts first. My putt was a little longer so I went first. That kind of helped me as there was lesser pressure while putting first.

“I was well aware that I needed a par or better on the 18th that’s why I played a little conservatively. My tee shot was a long one so it made sense for me to go for the green instead of laying up. I went for it and made a great up and down for birdie.

“The win couldn’t have come at a better time for me as the race for qualification to the Olympics is quite intense at the moment with the likes of Gaganjeet, Rashid, Chikka, Karandeep and Aman Raj, all being strong contenders.

“I still have some time to get back to where my game was at the start of the season last year. But the work I’ve put in is now paying off. I just need to keep doing the same thing, I’m definitely on the right track. My tee shots and putting stood out this week. I also gave myself a lot of birdie chances. I dedicate this win to my late grandfather who passed away last month.

“I thank my sponsor AVT for all their support. I would also like to thank Prometheus School, Gujarat Tourism, Golden Greens Golf Club and Physio Active for supporting this event.”  

Shivendra Singh Sisodia (71-71-68-66), known for driving it long, was exceptional with his iron-play and approach shots on Friday. Shivendra, who was overnight tied eighth and five off the lead, collected three birdies over the first 12 holes before signing off in style with birdie-eagle on the last two holes.

Sisodia hit a massive drive of 375 yards on the par-5 18th and followed that up with a five-iron approach that landed within three feet to set up his eagle. Shivendra thus improved on his previous best PGTI finish of tied sixth achieved in Chandigarh in 2018.

Shivendra, who jumped from 75th to 46th in the PGTI Order of Merit, said, “My driving was outstanding through the week as I landed it over 350 yards on about 10 occasions during the tournament. Today I struck it over 300 yards at least four times. I checked my ball carry distance before the event and it was around 296 yards. That gave me a lot of confidence. I also enjoyed the advantage of playing in my home conditions especially while hitting it off the tee.

“My approaches were equally good today and I missed just one green. I can attribute my solid round to my ball-striking because I missed a lot of putts today. I changed my irons at the start of the year and that change has suited me.

“On the 16th, I saw the leaderboard for the first time today and felt I had a chance to get close to the leader. Thereafter, I played quite aggressively and got the reward for it.”

Chikkarangappa (70-65-73-68), the winner of the tournament’s previous edition, mixed six birdies with two bogeys for his 68 and got within a shot of the lead at one stage. Chikka’s joint runner-up finish kept him in second position in the PGTI Order of Merit. He is also set to make decent progress in the world ranking from his current 352nd position.    

Aman Raj (72-66-69-69) was also part of the three-way tie for second place. Aman shot a bogey-free 69 in round four. His last hole birdie lifted him to a tied second finish and as a result from eighth to fifth in the PGTI Order of Merit.

Noida’s Gaurav Pratap Singh, who was overnight second and one off the lead, ended the week in sixth at 10-under-278 after his final round of 72. Delhi-based rookie Kartik Sharma (69) took tied seventh place along with Lucknow’s Sanjeev Kumar (69) at nine-under-279. Delhi’s Rashid Khan (70) was tied 13th at six-under-282. (Text & image: PGTI media).

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