Chikkarangappa S steals show on final day to clinch season-ending Tour Championship

Bengalurus Chikkarangappa S stole the show on the final day with a round of three-under 69 to triumph by two shots at the TATA Steel PGTIs season-ending TATA Steel Tour Championship, a Rs 3 crore event, played at the Beldih and Golmuri Golf Courses, here.

Gurugram’s Manu Gandas took tied sixth place at the season’s showpiece event to emerge champion in the 2022 TATA Steel PGTI Rankings (Order of Merit).

Chikkarangappa (66-71-62-69), who totaled 20-under 268 for the week, bagged a whopping Rs. 45 lakh for his effort at the richest-ever event on the PGTI. It was the 29-year-old golfer’s 15th title on the PGTI and overall 16th professional win.

The trio of international star Shiv Kapur (64-69-70-67), Delhi’s Shamim Khan (71-67-67-65) and Gurugram’s Veer Ahlawat (67-71-67-65) claimed tied second place at 18-under 270.

Manu Gandas (66-68-68-70) of Gurugram took the coveted No. 1 spot in the PGTI Rankings (Order of Merit) after finishing tied sixth at 16-under 272 at the Tour Championship this week.

Manu closed the 2022 season with record earnings of Rs 88,50,688, the highest ever for a PGTI season, to finish number one in the money list by a fair distance. Gandas broke the previous record of season’s earnings of Rs 66,27,650 set by Rashid Khan in 2019.

Manu had earlier set another PGTI record by winning six titles during the season. Gandas, who had turned pro back in 2015 posted a total of 13 top-10s in the year. Chandigarh’s Yuvraj Singh Sandhu finished second on the PGTI Rankings with season’s earnings of Rs 70,99,768.

All four rounds of the event saw one half of the field play their first nine holes at Golmuri Golf Course and second nine at Beldih Golf Course while the other half of the field played Beldih first followed by Golmuri. The par for the round was 72. The leading groups started at Golmuri and finished at Beldih.

Chikkarangappa, the overnight leader by one shot, was in control for most part of the day as he put together five birdies in exchange for a bogey over the first 13 holes thanks to his exceptional iron-play and wedge shots.

Chikka’s lead came under threat for a brief phase of play when he dropped a bogey on the 14th and Khalin Joshi made a charge with four birdies between the 12th and the 16th to get within one shot of the former.

Khalin finally slipped out of contention with a bogey and double-bogey on the last two holes to finish tied sixth as Chikka marched to his first title in Jamshedpur after having finished runner-up in the city twice before.

“I had things under control for most part of the day but when I saw the leaderboard after the 16th and I realized Khalin was just one behind me, I was a little surprised. But then I just played my game, found the fairways, went for the pins and made the crucial par putts. Khalin’s bogey on the 17th gave me some breathing space,” Chikka said.

“My driving and iron-play were great through the week. I also putted well as I changed my putter this week after struggling on the greens last week in Kolkata. I went back to a putter that I had played with for a long time and as a result made some clutch putts like on the 17th today.

I meditate a lot so that helps me keep my calm in pressure situations on the golf course. It helps me focus and keep the distractions away. It’s been a tough year for me as I lost my mother earlier this year and wasn’t really enjoying my golf. But I managed to stay the course as my mother always wanted me to play golf. I dedicate this win to her.

I would like to thank TATA Steel for staging this landmark event. This win gives me a huge boost for 2023. I feel it’s high time I win an international event,” added Chikka, who is now ranked joint second in the number of wins (15) on the PGTI along with Shamim Khan. Mukesh Kumar leads the list with 20 wins.

Veer Ahlawat (65), Shamim Khan (65) and Shiv Kapur (67) shot bogey-free final rounds to end the week as joint runners-up, two shots behind the winner.  

Among the prominent names, Jyoti Randhawa was tied 10th at 14-under 274, SSP Chawrasia was tied 16th at 12-under 276, Gaganjeet Bhullar was tied 22nd at 10-under 278, Udayan Mane was tied 34th at five-under 283 and Jeev Milkha Singh was tied 58th at three-over 291. The two Jamshedpur-based professionals, Karan Taunk and Kurush Heerjee finished tied 54th at two-over 290.

Meanwhile, the eighteen-year-old Arjun Bhati of Greater Noida won the PGTI Emerging Player of the Year title with season’s earnings of Rs 16,38,310, the highest among the rookies.

Arjun, who claimed tied 43rd place at two-under 286 at the season-ending event, secured a creditable 25th position on the PGTI Order of Merit as a result of two top-10s in the season including a third place finish at the Gurugram Challenge.

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