Udayan takes it all on a fateful Sunday

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Udayan Mane - TheGolfingHub
Udayan tees off on the 18th on the final day of the Tour Championship the Beldih Golf Course on Sunday. Photo: PGTI

After a pulsating day of twists and turns, it was Udayan Mane who came out best in the battle of nerves with a gritty last round of three-under 69 that saw him win the PGTI’s season-ending Tour Championship by a narrow one-shot margin.

Mane took it all as his second triumph at Jamshedpur also helped him bag the PGTI Order of Merit title for the 2020-21 season.

Mane (68-66-67-69) made six birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey in round four to end up with a tournament tally of 18-under 270 at the season’s showpiece event worth Rs. 1.5 crore in prize money which was played across the Beldih and Golmuri Golf Courses in Jamshedpur.

 

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The six -foot four-inch tall golfer, who made a 12-feet pressure putt for victory on the last hole, made it a year to remember as he followed up his Tokyo Olympics appearance with the bragging rights of being No. 1 in PGTI’s money list with season’s earnings of Rs 58,72,275.

Two-time Asian Tour winner Rashid Khan (70-72-66-63) matched the tournament’s lowest round of nine-under 63 on Sunday to climb 10 spots and finish runner-up at 17-under 271.

Khan, who made an eagle and seven birdies in round four, gave himself an opportunity to have a shot at the title and was even staring at a record fourth PGTI Order of Merit crown as his playoff with Mane was looking possible at one stage.

 

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Mane, the overnight joint leader along with Shubhankar Sharma, seized the early initiative with birdies on the second, third and fourth, making two-putts on the two par-5s on that stretch. Udayan made double-bogey on the eighth but soon recovered with birdies on the 11th and 13th where he sank 10-feet putts.

Even as Mane’s closest rivals Sharma and Veer Ahlawat dropped a few shots on the back-nine to slip out of contention, Mane emerged the outright favourite after his terrific up and down birdie from the bunker on the 16th gave him a two-shot cushion at the top. A bogey on the 17th and an erratic drive on the 18th gave Mane some anxious moments as clubhouse leader Khan was just one shot behind at that stage.

Also Read: Mind is a clean slate for Shubhankar

However, Mane, who had earlier also won the 2019 Tour Championship in Jamshedpur, produced a good approach shot and an ice-cool 12-feet par conversion on the 18th to seal his 12th title on the PGTI and the Order of Merit crown.

Mane, who collected the winner’s purse worth Rs 22,50,000, thus zoomed from third to first position in the PGTI Order of Merit as he leapfrogged Karandeep Kochhar and Chikkarangappa in the merit list based on season’s earnings. Mane won an impressive four titles during the 2020-21 season and posted four other top-10s as well.

Mane said, “My mind was racing at the start of the day but I just calmed myself down by telling myself that it’s just another round of golf with my good pals Shubhankar and Veer and we’re just going to have a shootout.

“I had no idea about my Order of Merit chances until informed by my good friends Khalin Joshi and Chikkarangappa on the second day. It played in my mind but I knew that I still had to play good golf at the end of the day to win.

“On the final putt, I just had a simple mindset to start on my line and whatever happens it happens, I just made sure to give it good speed. These putts can be tricky as they can just go by four to five feet so I was careful with the speed and gave it a good line. It came out perfect.

 

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“I couldn’t believe that Rashid and me didn’t get into a playoff, because it felt like we were heading into a playoff. I was able to put a good stroke on the winning putt and that’s when the entire cocktail of emotions that was brewing inside me through 18 holes just got released. It was a sweet feeling.

“The momentum changed on the 10th where Shubhankar made a double-bogey, Veer made birdie and so Shubhankar was one behind me and Veer was one ahead. That’s when I felt that I had a really good chance.

“I believed my tee shot on the 18th was heading out of bounds but luckily for me it hit a tree and fell back inside the rough, just 10 feet away from being out of bounds. But I had hit my wedges well all week so I trusted my wedge and putter for an up and down from 96 yards after I chipped-out of the rough.

“I just like the courses here in Jamshedpur. That’s the reason I’ve won here twice. It’s a good test for the professionals to adapt from one course to another in the middle of the round.

“Winning the PGTI Order of Merit title is great for my confidence as I will head to the Asian Tour soon. I’d now like to carry this form to Asia,” added Mane, who now wins a four-year exemption on the PGTI as a result of emerging Order of Merit champion.

 

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Twenty-one-year-old Kartik Sharma won the Emerging Player of the Year title with season’s earnings of Rs. 18,22,750, the highest among the rookies.

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