Udayan Mane cruises to eight-stroke victory at Western India Oxford Masters

Udayan Mane Action PicturePune: Rookie Udayan Mane has had a dream start to his professional career. On Friday, the 24-year-old from Bengaluru secured his second title in only his ninth professional event when he cruised to a comfortable eight-stroke victory at the inaugural Western India Oxford Masters at the Oxford Golf Resort in Pune. Mane shot a clinical four-under-68 in round four to take his tournament total to 19-under-269 and as a result claim his second title in a span of four weeks.

Faridabad’s Abhinav Lohan finished a distant second at 11-under-277 at the Rs. 30 lakh PGTI event.

Udayan Mane (65-69-67-68), who enjoyed a mammoth six-shot lead ahead of the final round, didn’t look in trouble at any stage on Friday. He was ahead by six shots or more through the day. Udayan, who won his maiden title in Jaipur three weeks back, was quick off the blocks in round four as he birdied the second after landing it within three feet and sank an eagle on the fourth thanks to a 20-feet conversion. The bogey on the ninth was a minor hiccup for Mane where his tee shot went off the mark.

Mane got his back-nine going with two good pars on the 10th and 11th and a 10-feet birdie putt on the 12th. He finally sealed his wire-to-wire win in style by knocking in a 45-footer for birdie on the 17th. It is only the first time that a player has won two titles in his rookie season on the PGTI.

Udayan said, “I knew I had a very good chance of winning today as a result of the substantial lead. However, I took nothing for granted and wanted to get off to a good start which I did manage to do. I was striking it well so I was confident of hitting the fairways and greens and taking my chances on the greens.

“The birdie on the 12th got my back-nine going after I dropped a bogey on the ninth. Thereafter I knew I didn’t have to do anything extraordinary.

“I don’t just want to score well but in fact want to achieve a certain quality in my game. Once I have that quality, the scores will follow. The two wins mean that I’ll now have to reassess my goals for the season and aim much higher than before,” said Mane, who led in all four rounds of the tournament.

Mane took home the winner’s cheque worth Rs. 4,50,000 which pushed him up from seventh place to third position in the Rolex Rankings. His season’s earnings now read Rs. 14,72,792. Abhijit Singh Chadha of Chandigarh continues to lead the money rankings with season’s earnings of Rs. 17,91,165. Udayan has now also consolidated his position on top of the 2015 PGTI Emerging Player of the Year table. He has emerged as the firm favourite to win the title with nearest rival Pratap Atwal a distant second with earnings of Rs. 4,29,606.

Abhinav Lohan (72-65-70-70), who was overnight tied second, finished as sole runner-up after his final round of two-under-70. Lohan fired five birdies against two bogeys.

Shubhankar Sharma of Gurgaon shot the day’s joint best score of six-under-66 to end the week in tied third place along with Sri Lankan Anura Rohana (71) at 10-under-278.

Noida’s Rahul Bajaj claimed fifth place at seven-under-281.

Abhishek Jha of Bengaluru also shot a 66, the day’s joint best score, to secure tied 16th place at two-under-286.

Nagpur’s Moinuddin Malak, who also resides and plays a lot of golf in Pune, finished as the highest-placed professional from Western India and Maharashtra. Malak was tied 27th at one-over-289.

14-year-old Kshitij bags ‘Raj Kumar Pitamber Trophy’ for best amateur

Delhi’s Kshitij Naveed Kaul, the lone amateur to make the cut this week, claimed a creditable tied 16th finish with a total score of two-under-286. The 14-year-old Kaul, playing in a professional event for the first time, made an eagle, three birdies, three bogeys and a double-bogey, en route his even-par-72 in the final round. The teenage talent, currently one of India’s top junior golfers, didn’t shoot a single over-par score this week as he posted rounds of 70, 72, 72 and 72. Kaul became the first recipient of the “Raj Kumar Pitamber Trophy” on Friday as the best performing amateur.

The trophy honours the memory of Raj Kumar Pitamber, perhaps Western India’s most prominent golfer for many decades.