Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, April 20
Chikkarangappa S kept his enviable playoff record intact as he stole a march over fellow Bengalurean and good friend C Muniyappa to lift his 13th career title at the TATA Steel PGTI’s Delhi-NCR Open at the Noida Golf Course on Friday.
Chikkarangappa (67-69-67-69) triumphed over Muniyappa (66-69-68-69) on the fourth playoff hole after both the golfers ended the regulation 72 holes with an identical card of 16-under 272 at the Rs 30-lakh event.
Chikkarangappa thus bagged his third title in the last six months and moved up a place to the top in the PGTI Order of Merit. The 25-year-old has now won all of his five playoff encounters on the PGTI.
Incidentally, on Friday, the record for the longest-running playoff on the PGTI was matched. The only previous instance of a playoff lasting four extra holes on the PGTI was during the PGTI Players Championship, also played at the Noida Golf Course in 2013.
Chikkarangappa and Muniyappa began the final round as joint leaders, three ahead of the rest of the field. It seemed to be a two-horse race from the very start as both the players matched shot for shot and maintained a comfortable lead over the others.
It was all square till the eighth as both players were 4-under through that stretch. Chikka had a moment of brilliance on the second where he hit his approach through the trees and landed it within three feet for a birdie.
On a dramatic day, the first twist came on the ninth when former Indian Open champion Muniyappa found the trees and thereby dropped a bogey. He conceded another bogey on the 10th to fall back by two shots. But just as Chikka was looking the favourite, his drive on the 15th landed out of bounds and led to a double-bogey thus restoring parity between Muniyappa and him.
Chikka once again snatched the lead with a birdie on the 17th courtesy an outstanding second shot. However, Muniyappa fought back with his splendid approach and a six-foot conversion on the 18th that earned him a birdie and took the match into a playoff.
The stalemate continued on the first three playoff holes, all played on the 18th, as there were no birdie opportunities created. Finally, Chikka sealed it on the fourth extra hole with superb wedge shot from 150 yards that landed seven feet from the flag.
Muniyappa stumbled on the fourth as his approach missed the green and the subsequent chip was way short of the hole. Chikka went on to birdie the hole and register his first win at the Noida Golf Course.
“I’m delighted to win at the Noida Golf Course on my return to this venue after five years. I did the basics well this week. I was very good off the tee and found most fairways. It’s just amazing to win my third title since November and my second this year,” said Chikka.
Delhi’s Shamim Khan finished third at 12-under 276, Gaurav Pratap Singh had the best finish among the Noida golfers as he secured tied 18th at 3-under 285.
Delhi’s Harshjeet Singh Sethie, the only amateur to make the cut, won the prize for the best performance by an amateur. Sethie claimed tied 31st place at 2-over 290.
Chandigarh’s Aadil Bedi shot a 3-under 69 in the final round to finish tied-sixth. Bedi (70-69-73), who was lying tied-12th after the third round, traded six birdies with three bogeys on the final day for a total of 7-under 281. He shared the sixth spot with city-mate Angad Cheema, Delhi’s Rashid Khan and Bangladesh’s Mohammad Zamal Hossain Mollah. Another Chandigarh golfer Karandeep Kochar finished tied-36th at 3-over 291.
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