Udayan Mane wins Delhi-NCR Open, to boost Olympic hopes

Udayan Mane in action; and getting his winner’s cheque. Pic: PGTI

Gurugram, March 19: Pune’s Udayan Mane got emotional as he dedicated his 11th PGTI Tour win to his grandfather, who passed away last month. On Friday in the final round, he made no mistakes nor try any heroics as he cruised to a two-shot win in the Delhi-NCR Open Golf Championship 2021 presented by Prometheus School.

“I dedicate this win to my grandfather, who passed away last month. This past month has been tough on our family and hopefully this win will turn things for us,” said Mane, a hugely popular figure amongst Indian golfers, at the Golden Greens Golf course. Mane won Rs. 4,84,950 and stayed in third place on the PGTI Order of Merit.

“It could also give me a shot at the Olympic Games,” said Mane, who could move to around 270th in the world up from his current 320th. “The win couldn’t have come at a better time for me as the race for qualification to the Olympics is quite intense at the moment with the likes of Gaganjeet, Rashid, Chikka, Karandeep and Aman Raj, all being strong contenders.

Mane, supported by Dilip Thomas AVT Group, won three times in three starts and finished second in a fourth around the turn of 2019 and 2020 seasons before the pandemic put a stop on golf in 2020. When golf resumed later in the year, Mane managed three Top-15s, a Top-30 and a missed cut on five starts.

Now in the third event of 2021 he found the winning touch to re-ignite his hopes of getting to the Tokyo Olympics as the highest ranked Indian. His latest win will take him to around 270th and make him the highest ranked Indian, unless Gaganleet Bhullar (324) playing in Kenya overhauls him with a good result.’

The last entry as of date is Argentine Fabian Gomez at 306 and Mane will move ahead. But there is still more golf to come before the Games.

The 30-year-old Mane clinched his 11th title on the PGTI after he aggregated 14-under-274 to prevail by two strokes at the Rs. 30 lakh event.

Gurugram-based Shivendra Singh Sisodia, for whom the Golden Greens is his home course, secured a career-best tied second place at 12-under-276 after a sensational birdie-eagle finish on the last two holes helped the 31-year-old put up a score of 66.

Bengaluru’s Chikkarangappa (68) and Patna’s Aman Raj (69) also took a share of second place.

Chandigarh’s Karandeep Kochhar (67) claimed fifth place at 11-under-277 to maintain his lead in the PGTI Order of Merit.

Sandeep Singh of Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan, shot the day’s best score of seven-under-65 to finish tied ninth at eight-under-280.

Udayan Mane (71-67-67-69), the overnight leader by one shot, had a hot start to the day with two birdies on the first three holes which saw him play a couple of good wedge shots. Udayan then made some good putts which didn’t roll in but he still hung on to his lead.

On the par-5 18th, Mane sank a crucial 10-feet birdie putt to seal the deal even as playing partner Aman Raj missed his eagle putt from the same distance.

Mane said, “My game-plan today was to go bogey-free, put the ball on the fairway and the green and take my two-putt. I was focused on a hot start which I did get. My good putts didn’t roll in thereafter but I decided not to let the frustration creep in. Finally, I got the very crucial birdie on the 18th.

“On the 18th, Aman’s eagle putt and my birdie putt were almost the same distance so we had to call in the referee to measure our distance from the pin in order to decide who putts first. My putt was a little longer so I went first. That kind of helped me as there was lesser pressure while putting first.

“I was well aware that I needed a par or better on the 18th that’s why I played a little conservatively. My tee shot was a long one so it made sense for me to go for the green instead of laying up. I went for it and made a great up and down for birdie.

“I still have some time to get back to where my game was at the start of the season last year. But the work I’ve put in is now paying off. I just need to keep doing the same thing, I’m definitely on the right track. My tee shots and putting stood out this week. I also gave myself a lot of birdie chances.”

“I thank my sponsor AVT for all their support. I would also like to thank Prometheus School, Gujarat Tourism, Golden Greens Golf Club and Physio Active for supporting this event.”

Shivendra Singh Sisodia (71-71-68-66), known for driving it long, was exceptional with his iron-play and approach shots on Friday. Shivendra, who was overnight tied eighth and five off the lead, collected three birdies over the first 12 holes before signing off in style with birdie-eagle on the last two holes.

Sisodia hit a massive drive of 375 yards on the par-5 18th and followed that up with a five-iron approach that landed within three feet to set up his eagle. Shivendra thus improved on his previous best PGTI finish of tied sixth achieved in Chandigarh in 2018.

Shivendra, who jumped from 75th to 46th in the PGTI Order of Merit, said, “My driving was outstanding through the week as I landed it over 350 yards on about 10 occasions during the tournament. Today I struck it over 300 yards at least four times. I checked my ball carry distance before the event and it was around 296 yards. That gave me a lot of confidence. I also enjoyed the advantage of playing in my home conditions especially while hitting it off the tee.

“On the 16th, I saw the leaderboard for the first time today and felt I had a chance to get close to the leader. Thereafter, I played quite aggressively and got the reward for it.”

Chikkarangappa (70-65-73-68), the winner of the tournament’s previous edition, mixed six birdies with two bogeys for his 68 and got within a shot of the lead at one stage. Chikka’s joint runner-up finish kept him in second position in the PGTI Order of Merit. He is also set to make decent progress in the world ranking from his current 352nd position.

Aman Raj (72-66-69-69) was also part of the three-way tie for second place. Aman shot a bogey-free 69 in round four. His last hole birdie lifted him to a tied second finish and as a result from eighth to fifth in the PGTI Order of Merit.

Noida’s Gaurav Pratap Singh, who was overnight second and one off the lead, ended the week in sixth at 10-under-278 after his final round of 72.

Delhi-based rookie Kartik Sharma (69) took tied seventh place along with Lucknow’s Sanjeev Kumar (69) at nine-under-279.

Delhi’s Rashid Khan (70) was tied 13th at six-under-282.


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