Harpal Singh Bedi
Jamshedpur: On a day of dramatic twists, Pune based Udayan Mane returned a gritty last round of three-under 69 to clinch the PGTI’s season-ending TATA Steel Tour Championship by one-shot here on Sunday.
Udayan took it all as his second triumph at Jamshedpur also helped him bag the PGTI Order of Merit title for the 2020-21 season.
Mane (68-66-67-69) made six birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey in round four to end up with a tournament tally of 18-under 270 at the season’s showpiece event worth Rs. 1.5 crore in prize money which was played across the Beldih and Golmuri Golf Courses in Jamshedpur.
The six -foot four-inch tall Olympian , who made a 12-feet pressure putt for victory on the last hole, made it a year to remember with the bragging rights of being No. 1 in PGTI’s money list with season’s earnings of Rs. 58,72,275.
Two-time Asian Tour winner Rashid Khan (70-72-66-63) matched the tournament’s lowest round of nine-under 63 on Sunday to climb 10 spots and finish runner-up at 17-under 271.
Meanwhile Twenty-one-year-old Kartik Sharma of Gurugram won the PGTI Emerging Player of the Year title with season’s earnings of Rs. 18,22,750, the highest among the rookies. Kartik, who claimed tied 47th place at even-par 288 at the season-ending event, clinched a creditable 18th position on the PGTI Order of Merit
Mane, the overnight joint leader along with Shubhankar Sharma, seized the early initiative with birdies on the second, third and fourth, making two-putts on the two par-5s on that stretch. Udayan made double-bogey on the eighth but soon recovered with birdies on the 11th and 13th where he sank 10-feet putts.
Even as Mane’s closest rivals Shubhankar and Veer Ahlawat dropped a few shots on the back-nine to slip out of contention, he emerged the favourite after his terrific up and down birdie from the bunker on the 16th gave him a two-shot cushion at the top.
A bogey on the 17th and an erratic drive on the 18th gave Mane some anxious moments as clubhouse leader Rashid Khan was just one shot behind the winner at that stage.
However, Mane , produced a good approach shot and a 12-feet par conversion on the 18th to seal his 12th title on the PGTI and the Order of Merit crown.
Mane, collected the winner’s purse worth Rs. 22,50,000, and also climbed from third to first position in the PGTI Order of Merit as he leapfrogged Karandeep Kochhar and Chikkarangappa in the merit list based on season’s earnings.
He won an impressive four titles during the 2020-21 season and posted four other top-10s as well.
Mane said, “I had no idea about my Order of Merit chances until informed by my good friends Khalin Joshi and Chikkarangappa on the second day. It played in my mind but I knew that I still had to play good golf at the end of the day to win.
“On the final putt, I just had a simple mindset to start on my line and whatever happens it happens, I just made sure to give it good speed. I was careful with the speed and gave it a good line. It came out perfect.
“I couldn’t believe that Rashid and me didn’t get into a playoff, because it felt like we were heading into a playoff. I was able to put a good stroke on the winning putt and that’s when the entire cocktail of emotions that was brewing inside me through 18 holes just got released. It was a sweet feeling.
“Winning the PGTI Order of Merit title is great for my confidence as I will head to the Asian Tour soon. I’d now like to carry this form to Asia.,” added Mane , who now wins a four-year exemption on the PGTI as a result of emerging Order of Merit champion.
Rashid Khan, lying tied 30th after his first two rounds of 70 and 72, made a brilliant rearguard action with scores of 66 and 63 in the last two rounds to make a strong comeback in the tournament.
Rashid, who started with a six-under on the front-nine at Golmuri on Sunday, added three more birdies on the back-nine at Beldih during his flawless final round. As a result of his runner-up finish, Khan jumped from ninth to fourth place in the PGTI’s final money list.
Veer Ahlawat (68-67-68-69), who was in the joint and outright lead for most part of the day, made seven birdies, two bogeys and a double-bogey during his last round of 69 to finish third at 16-under 272.
He was the joint leader with Udayan with three holes remaining but dropped out of the race with a bogey and double-bogey on the 16th and 17th holes and finally finished fifth on the PGTI Rankings.
Two-time European Tour winner Shubhankar Sharma, the overnight joint leader, shot a final round of 72 to take tied fourth place at 15-under 273 along with SSP Chawrasia (70).
Shubhankar’s challenge faded away on the back-nine where he conceded three bogeys and a double-bogey in exchange for two birdies.
SSP’s nephew Sunit Chowrasia (69) finished tied sixth at 14-under 274 along with nine-time Asian Tour winner Gaganjeet Bhullar (71).
Karandeep Kochhar, a winner of two events this season, finished tied 23rd at six-under 282 at the season finale. Karandeep, the Order of Merit leader at the beginning of the week, finally took second place in the PGTI’s money list with season’s earnings of Rs. 51,00,880.
Chikkarangappa claimed tied 12th place in Jamshedpur with a total of 10-under 278. Chikka, a two-time winner in the season, thus finished third in the Order of Merit with season’s earnings of Rs. 48,07,880.
Veteran Jyoti Randhawa finished tied 44th at one-under 287.
The two Jamshedpur-based professionals, Karan Taunk (six-over 294) and Kurush Heerjee (15-over 303), finished tied 63rd and 71st respectively.