India Masters: Chikkarangappa nails it

It was by the finest of margins that Chikkarangappa defended his title at the Eagleton Golf Resort.

Chikkarangappa poses with the trophy.   -  Shreedutta Chidananda

It took a play-off to determine the winner of the Take Solutions India Masters, and even then there was only a couple of inches in it. S. Chikkarangappa’s 9-iron from 145 yards on the 18th sailed past the flag, bounced once on the green, and rolled sharply back. It left him needing a birdie putt of some four feet to win the tie-breaker, and he nailed it. Moments earlier, Shubhankar Sharma had watched his birdie putt, from 10 feet, settle inches wide of the cup.

It was thus by the finest of margins that Chikkarangappa defended his title at the Eagleton Golf Resort on Saturday. Shubhankar — dogged to the end — and he returned an identical tally of 25-under-263 to force the first play-off hole, when the local favourite triumphed.

That it went down to the wire was due to Shubhankar's run of four birdies on the final four regulation holes, a passage of play that included one putt from 20 feet on the 16th. Chikkarangappa, level with his opponent overnight, had eased into a two-shot lead by the seventh hole, after a hat-trick of birdies had followed a bogey on the fourth. It appeared that advantage would be enough, but Shubhankar simply would not give up.

“Even I didn’t expect that he would make four out of four at the end,” Chikkarangappa said later. “But I was confident. I have been involved in three play-offs as a professional and I’ve now won all three.” It was an emotional victory for the 22-year-old, who was in tears as he embraced his mother afterwards. “I’ve been through a bad patch these last three months. I had a back injury that made me fear for my career. Also, losing on my home course would have been very hurtful,” he said.

Chikkarangappa took home a cheque for Rs.13,65,000, which lifted him to first place on the PGTI Order of Merit. The win was his second on the Asian Development Tour and seventh overall. Abhijit Chadha, who shot the day’s best of 10-under-62, finished the tournament in third place at 19-under-269.

The scores (top eight after 72 holes):

263: S. Chikkarangappa (65, 66, 66, 66), Shubhankar Sharma (65, 64, 68, 66); 269: Abhijit Chadha (70, 69, 68, 62); 270: Greg Moss (62, 70, 71, 67), Rashid Khan (65, 70, 68, 67); 271: Himmat Rai (64, 67, 69, 71); 272: Anura Rohana (66, 73, 66, 67), Oskar Arvidsson (69, 69, 67, 67).

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