Bengaluru: Reigning Rolex Ranking champion Chikkarangappa S survived a late surge from fellow Bengalurean Rahil Gangjee before prevailing in a close contest at the inaugural TAKE Open Golf Championship at the Karnataka Golf Association (KGA) course. Chikka ended the Rs. 1 crore PGTI event with a persistent final round of one-under-71 that took his tournament tally to 13-under-275.
Rahil Gangjee, tied for the lead till the 16th hole, finished a creditable second at 12-under-276 courtesy his final round of four-under-68.
Home boy Chikkarangappa (69-67-68-71), the overnight leader by three, came up with another unwavering effort at the world-class KGA course to seal his 10th professional title which also accounted for his second win of the current PGTI season.
The 23-year-old Asian Tour regular bagged a handsome cheque of Rs. 15 lakh for his victory and as a result has now zoomed into first position in the Rolex Ranking, taking a leap of 15 places. His season’s earnings stand at Rs. 24,06,640.
Chikka looked set to drive home the advantage when he was two-under for the day through 11 holes. He had holed a 40-footer on the seventh and played a magnificent bunker shot on the 11th for birdies on both holes.
However, it was around this time that Rahil Gangjee (68-70-70-68), who was tied fourth and four off the lead after round three, started making a move.
Gangjee charged into contention as he caught up with Chikka after birdies on the 11th, 14th and 15th holes. The former Asian Tour winner missed an eagle by a whisker on the 11th and made a long conversion on the 14th.
Chikka, who had dropped a bogey on the 14th, survived some anxious moments on the last stretch as he recovered from a tough spot on the 17th salvaging a par with a tremendous chip.
A poor chip by Gangjee, who was playing one group ahead of Chikka, on the 17th, led to a bogey for him and handed the sole lead back to Chikka. Finally, it was a four-foot par conversion on the 18th that saw Chikka come through as the champion.
Chikka, who recently sealed his Asian Tour card, said, “It’s been a satisfying win since I was mentally and physically exhausted coming into the last round, having played four weeks in a row. The last four weeks had taken a toll on me as I was in contention through all these events. My energy levels were low today so I kept telling my caddie to push me to play better.
“I had a bad stretch from the 12th to the 14th where I was not reading the lines well. I then had a nervous last few holes as Rahil made a charge. I got lucky when he bogeyed the 17th. I then decided to play regulation golf. The brilliant chip that set up a par for me on the 17th turned out to be crucial as it kept me ahead.
“This win has brought me back into contention for the Rolex Player of the Year title. I’d love to defend my Rolex Ranking title this year,” added Chikka.
Gangjee, the runner-up, said, “I wasn’t watching the leaderboard but I knew that I had to keep at it till the end since Chikka has been in hot form of late and wouldn’t let go of the lead easily. I enjoyed a superb stretch from the 11th to the 16th. But I missed an important birdie opportunity on the 16th and also got it wrong with my chip shot on the 17th.
“The miss on the 16th turned out to be decisive at the end. Nonetheless, it was a good comeback on the final day,” added Rahil, who recently moved base from Kolkata to Bengaluru.
Indian star Jyoti Randhawa shot the day’s joint best score of 67 to grab a share of third place along with Sri Lankan Anura Rohana (69) and Panchkula’s Shubhankar Sharma (71) at 10-under-278. Shubhankar has now moved into second position in the Rolex Ranking with season’s earnings of Rs. 21,42,513.
Bengaluru’s Jaibir Singh took the prize for the best performance by an amateur as he claimed tied sixth place at eight-under-280 along with Delhi’s Chiragh Kumar.
Sanjay Kumar of Lucknow had a hole-in-one on the eighth during his final round of 72. He finished tied 10th at six-under-282.
Fifteen-year-old amateur Aadil Bedi of Chandigarh, making his first appearance in a professional event, shot a final round of 73 to finish tied 51st at 10-over-298.