Udayan Mane wins Tour Championship to emerge PGTI Order of Merit winner

After a pulsating day of twists and turns, it was Olympian Udayan Mane who came out best in the battle of nerves with a gritty last round of three-under 69 that saw him win the PGTI’s season-ending TATA Steel Tour Championship by a narrow one-shot margin. The winner Mane 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 Pune-based golfer, who made a 12-feet pressure putt for victory on the last hole, made it a year to remember as he followed up his Tokyo Olympics appearance 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. Delhi-based Khan, who made an eagle and seven birdies in round four, gave himself an opportunity to have a shot at the title and was even staring at a record fourth PGTI Order of Merit crown as his playoff with Mane was looking possible at one stage.

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. Mane 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, Udayan emerged the outright 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 at that stage.

However, Mane, who had earlier also won the 2019 TATA Steel Tour Championship in Jamshedpur, produced a good approach shot and an ice-cool 12-feet par conversion on the 18th to seal his 12th title on the PGTI and the Order of Merit crown.

Mane, who collected the winner’s purse worth Rs. 22,50,000, thus zoomed 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. Udayan won an impressive four titles during the 2020-21 season and posted four other top-10s as well.

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 the 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. Veer 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. Ahlawat, also a contender for the Order of Merit title had he won, 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 four-time European Tour winner 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 mone’ list with the 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 ‘f Merit with the season’s earnings of Rs. 48,07,880.

Indian golf legend 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.

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