Bengaluru, Feb 14: The big-built Udayan Mane continued his amazing run, as he notched up a third straight win on TATA Steel PGTI Tour as he rallied from behind to win the Players Championship 2020 presented by Eagleton – The Golf Resort.
Mane, who has won the last two PGTI events, the TATA Steel Tour Championship 2019 and the Golconda Masters 2020, became only the second player after Delhi-based Ashok Kumar to have won three consecutive events on the TATA Steel PGTI. Ashok achieved the feat during the PGTI’s inaugural 2006-07 season.
Mane, starting the day five off the lead, held by Veer Ahlawat, birdied the last two holes to set a clubhouse target of 20-under, which overnight leader Ahlawat was unable to overtake. Mane fired a final round 66 after 68-67-67 over the first three days.
Ahlawat, who shot 67-65-65 on first three days and was five clear of Mane at he start managed only 71 and totalled 20-under-268.
In the playoff Mane prevailed on the second extra hole to bag his 10th professional title at his home course Eagleton.
Bengalureans Chikkarangappa (67) and Mari Muthu R (69) took a share of third place at 18-under-270. Another Bengaluru player Khalin Joshi (66) secured fifth place at 17-under-271 while Patna’s Aman Raj (76) finished sixth at 13-under-275.
Abhishek Jha, also from Bengaluru, fired the day’s best round of seven-under-65 to claim tied 21st place at six-under-282.
Shubhankar Sharma (73-71-72-69), who shot his best round of the week, a three-under-69, on the last day, finished tied 29th at three-under-285.
Mane began the day with a flourish as he played his approaches and wedges well and sank putts from a range of 10 to 15 feet to pick up birdies on the first, fourth, sixth and seventh.
His only blemish came on the ninth where he missed an up and down for a bogey.
However, his only bogey was neutralized by his birdie on the 10th. Mane had pars on his next six holes, which included an incredible par-save on the 13th. Win a win still looking a little distant, he closed with birdies on the 17th and 18th to catch up with Ahlawat.
Mane drove the green on the par-4 17thand birdied and followed it up with a 12-feet conversion on the 18th.
The lanky Ahlawat, who began the final round with a two-shot lead over his nearest rival, Aman Raj (76), shot three birdies and two bogeys on the front-nine. Ahlawat missed a few birdie opportunities and had pars on eighth and ninth and the entire back nine for 11 in a row.
Yet, for Ahlawat, who finished fourth at last week’s Golconda Masters, the consistent run continued as he moved up from fourth to second in the PGTI’s money list with season’s earnings of Rs. 5,37,550.
Ahlawat said, “My game has been in good shape since the back-half of last season. However, I feel I have to focus more on my performance and my game-plan in the last round.”
Mane and Ahlawat made pars on the first playoff hole. However, on the second, Ahlawat bogeyed after missing a five-footer for par while Mane walked away with a par and the title.
Udayan said, “This is turning out to be an unbelievable run for me. My hard work seems to be paying off. I feel I drove it better last week in Hyderabad, but this week I hit my approach shots, irons and wedges much better.
“The crucial moments in my round were the birdie on the fourth where I gave myself a good yardage with my second shot, the par-save on the 13th where I landed my third shot from 90 yards to within a foot for a tap-in and the all-important 12-feet birdie conversion on the 18th that took me into the playoff.
“I began the day with the idea of making the most of my opportunities. But with the crowd on my side and the familiar conditions at Eagleton I felt I had the momentum. Once in the playoff, I knew what it would take to win a playoff at this venue having seen quite a few playoffs here in the past. I also felt I had the edge over Veer as I had won my only previous playoff while Veer had lost his only previous playoff.
“These situations give me an opportunity to develop my killer instinct even when I don’t have my ‘A’ game,” added Mane, who stretched his lead in the PGTI Order of Merit as his tally read Rs. 11,31,550. Udayan earned a cheque worth Rs. 4,84,950, for his effort at Eagleton.
Mane followed in the footsteps of Ashok Kumar who also won three titles on the trot, the IndianOil XtraPremium Masters, Solaris Global Green Open Golf and SRF All India Professional Golf Matchplay Championship, between February and March in 2007.