Ahmedabad: The last day of the inaugural TAKE Classic witnessed a class act by Udayan Mane that helped him turn the tables on Ajeetesh Sandhu and overnight leader Mukesh Kumar at the Kalhaar Blues & Greens in Ahmedabad.
Bengaluru lad Udayan, who shifted his base to the Kalhaar Blues & Greens golf course in Ahmedabad just two months back, walked away with his second title of the season thanks to a gallant seven-under-65 in the final round that took his total to 14-under-274 at the Rs. 50 lakh event.
Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu, who looked the favourite for a major part of the day, fell just short as a result of his last round of four-under-68 to finish runner-up at 13-under-275.
Mukesh Kumar of Mhow, the overnight leader, slipped to third at 10-under-278 after shooting a last round of one-over73.
Udayan Mane (69-68-72-65), lying overnight tied third and four shots off the lead, made a slow start on day four with his eagle and birdie on the front-nine being accompanied by two bogeys. But the burly Mane went on a birdie hunting spree on the back-nine, making five consecutive birdies from the 12th to the 16th thanks to a hot putter. The 26-year-old Udayan thus roared into contention as he tied Ajeetesh Sandhu for the lead.
Mane emerged top favourite when he sank an incredible 20-feet birdie putt on the 18th to take the sole lead. With Ajeetesh then missing out on a birdie on the last, Udayan went on to seal his fourth title in style.
Mane said, “It was an unbelievable day. I had a bad spell from the 12th hole onwards yesterday. But I was much more assured today. I had a shaky start today, but things started turning around in my favour from the 12th as I kept rolling in the putts.
“I wasn’t aware of the scores towards the latter part of the round. But I just played positive golf and fortunately the putts fell in. I sank everything between five feet to 25 feet on the greens today. My putting saw me home.
“My friend Shravan Desai, who plays at the amateur level, was caddying for me this week. He made an important contribution to my win as he told me something that put me in the zone. He asked me to do some deep-breathing during the round that helped me stay in the present and not get too ahead of myself. So, a big thanks to Shravan for his valuable advice.
“I had a great rookie season in 2015 having won two titles. But in 2016 things didn’t work out for me. So I just took two steps back and took stock at the end of last season. In 2017, I feel I’ve taken those two steps ahead again as I’m much sharper mentally and physically.
“The fact that I moved here to Kalhaar couple of months back and good in some good practice at this course also worked in my favour this week,” added Udayan, who has now moved up from seventh to second place in the PGTI Order of Merit thanks to his winning cheque of Rs. 7,50,000.
Ajeetesh Sandhu (72-69-66-68), lying overnight second, made a charge for the title with five birdies over the first 14 holes. However, a bogey on the 15th and a missed birdie opportunity on the 18th meant he had to be content with second place behind the rampaging Mane.
Ajeetesh said, “I have to be happy with the way I came back after a slow start on day one. I started well today but didn’t play the last few holes well enough. Nonetheless, I’m still in the hunt for the PGTI Order of Merit title which is an important goal this year.
“Playing in Japan has helped me immensely. The tough competition there has raised my game and changed my outlook. I’m now looking forward to a strong second half on the PGTI.”
Mukesh Kumar, three-under through the front-nine, slipped out of contention with two bogeys and a double bogey on the back-nine. He finally closed the week in third.
Kolkata rookie Viraj Madappa claimed fourth place at six-under-282.