Hyderabad, Feb 8 : Pune’s Udayan Mane reigned supreme at the Hyderabad Golf Club (HGC) on Saturday as he posted a clinical four-under-67 to make it back-to-back titles on the TATA Steel PGTI with victory at the Vooty & Haldi Presents Golconda Masters Golf Championship 2020.
Mane, who closed the week with a total of 17-under-267, bagged his ninth professional title with a two-shot margin at the season-opening Rs. 40 lakh event. It was the 28-year-old’s second win at the Golconda Masters following his 2018 triumph. Udayan had also won PGTI’s last event, the 2019 season-ending Tour Championship in Jamshedpur in December.
Bengaluru’s Viraj Madappa delivered a scintillating nine-under-62, the week’s best score, to clinch the joint runner’s up spot at a total of 15-under-269 along with Patna’s Aman Raj who fired a last round of five-under-66. Udayan (68-67-65-67), lying one off the lead in second place after round three, was off to a steady start in the final round making pars on the first five holes.
Round three leader Veer Ahlawat of Gurugram dropped bogeys on the fourth and fifth to concede the lead to Mane. Udayan, a two-time winner last year, began to pull away from the rest with a birdie and an eagle on the par-5s sixth and eighth respectively sinking a 30-footer on the latter. The strapping Mane then produced a couple of accurate tee shots on the par-3s ninth and 11th to pick up birdies from a range of four feet and build a commanding four-shot lead with seven holes to play. Mane’s only bogey of the day came on the 13th as a result of a three-putt. However, he held on to his lead with pars on the last five holes despite late surges from Viraj Madappa and Aman Raj.
Udayan said, “Back-to-back wins are always special and it feels awesome to have achieved it. I would love to take this form forward into the next events. It’s also good to win at the HGC for the second time. It’s turning out to be my happy hunting ground." “The first five holes are a tough stretch but I was looking for a couple of birdies there in order to start well.
However, the momentum came after the fifth as I struck my approaches well on the first two par-5s. I then had a healthy five-shot lead going into the back-nine but didn’t take the lead for granted," he said. “Thereafter, I knew that I had to keep it in play and make pars. However, I did miss a few short birdie putts on the back-nine where I played level-par. But I guess the big swing in my favour from the sixth to the 11th was enough to get the job done," Udayan said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season,” added Mane, who took home the winning cheque worth Rs. 6,46,600. Mane has now become the seventh player to win back-to-back titles on the PGTI following in the footsteps of Ashok Kumar, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Shamim Khan, Anirban Lahiri, Mithun Perera and Honey Baisoya.
Honey Baisoya was the last player to win back-to-back titles on the PGTI when he bagged the Pune Open and Delhi-NCR Open in April 2018. Viraj Madappa (69-68-70-62), lying tied 10th and eight off the lead ahead of the final round, had a rather quiet first eight holes with two birdies and a bogey. Asian Tour regular Viraj then went on a rampage with eight birdies between the ninth and the 18th courtesy a hot putter. The 22-year-old Madappa had an incredible run of birdies on the last five holes. He sank a 25-feet birdie putt on the ninth and made 15-feet birdie conversions on the first, 14th, 16th and 17th. Viraj, who was one short of Gaurav Pratap Singh’s 2019 course record of 61, said, “It was a tale of two contrasting 9s for me. I missed a lot of opportunities on the front-nine today. I then more than made up on the back-nine by putting myself in good positions and sinking almost every putt. Making 10 birdies in a round is always special. I’ll draw a lot of confidence from this performance.” Round three leader Veer Ahlawat of Gurugram dropped to fourth at 13-under-271 after his final round of 72. Delhi’s Rashid Khan, the 2019 PGTI Order of Merit champion, took a share of seventh place at nine-under-275.
Bengaluru’s Khalin Joshi was a further shot back in tied 10th place. Gurugram’s Abhishek Kuhar made a hole-in-one on the 11th during his round of 72. He finished tied 40th at five-over-289. Hyderabad-based professional Venkkat Gautham, who carded a last round of 75, also finished tied 40th. (UNI)