Players Championship final day: Chikkarangappa unveils champion stuff, shoots 65 to outplay Veer Ahlawat by two shots

The Bengaluru golfer, 27, picks his 15th career title and 14th win on the PGTI while overnight leader Veer finishes second

Chikkarangappa S of Bengaluru saved his best for the last and fourth as he shot a final round of seven-under 65 to emerge victorious by two shots at the TATA Steel PGTI Players Championship at Panchkula Golf Club (PGC) on Saturday.

Chikkarangappa began the final day in third place, three shots off Veer Ahlawat but came up with a superlative show to finish with a total of 20-under 268 (69-65-69-65), two shots ahead of the rest at the Rs 50 lakh event. The former PGTI Order of Merit champion had nine birdies and a double-bogey to show on his card as he wrapped up his 15th career title and 14th win on the PGTI.

Overnight leader Veer of Gurugram who was leading in the second and third rounds failed to maintain his two-shot lead as he fired a 70 to finish runner-up at 18-under 270 (67-62-71-70).

Yuvraj Singh Sandhu of Chandigarh struck a 67 to take third place at 16-under 272 (72-67-66-67).

Playing under drizzle throughout the day, Chikka converted long birdie putts on the first and third and then produced a great approach on the fifth and accurate chips on the sixth and seventh to collect five birdies on the first seven holes and draw level with leader Veer.

Chikka, who represented India at the World Cup of Golf in 2016 and caddied for Anirban Lahiri during the Tokyo Olympic Games, then suffered a setback with a double-bogey on the eighth where he found the trees twice. But the two-time winner on the Asian Development Tour came roaring back with two tremendous drives on the 11th and 12th that resulted in birdies and helped him restore parity with Veer.

Chikka, 27, then excelled with his chipping and putting on the last six holes, extracting birdies on the 15th and 16th that propelled him into the sole lead. He finally saw it home and picked up a cheque of Rs 8,08,250 that also took him to second place in the PGTI Order of Merit.

Chikka’s final round 65 was also the day’s joint best score and as hosts Angad Cheema and Ravi Kumar of Chandigarh too shot the same number. Cheema tied 12th at 10-under 278 while Ravi ended tied 21st at five-under 283.

“My short-game on the last six holes made all the difference. Making those two birdies on the 15th and 16th was the turning point as it gave me the lead. I’ve been in contention at Panchkula Golf Club on several occasions in the past but could not hold the champions trophy somehow. So I’m glad to finally have a win at PGC,” said Chikka, who finished third at the Golconda Masters in Hyderabad last week.

Meanwhile, overnight leader Veer faced trouble as his putts didn’t find the hole just like during the third round and made three birdies and a bogey during his 70 on Saturday but went home richer by Rs 5,58,250.

Yuvraj’s eagle on the sixth was accompanied by five birdies and two bogeys as he sealed third place, four shots behind the winner. Amardeep Malik of Noida was fourth place at 15-under 273 and his 71 during the last round included an eagle, two birdies and three bogeys to record a second consecutive top-5 and Ranjit Singh (68) of Chandigarh took fifth place at 14-under 274.

Karandeep Kochhar of Chandigarh finished tied sixth at 13-under 275 along with Kartik Sharma of Chandigarh and Om Prakash Chouhan of Mhow. However, Karandeep continues to maintain his lead in the PGTI Order of Merit with Rs 44,48,380. Tokyo Olympian Udayan Mane finished tied 21 with three others including Manu Gandas of Gurugram who lifted his maiden pro title at Hyderabad last week.

The next stop of the golf caravan will be a Rs 40 lakh event J & K Open at Royal Springs Golf Course, Srinagar which will begin from September 15 to 18.

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