Karandeep Kochhar wins TATA Steel Players Championship to claim first PGTI title since turning professional

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Chandigarh: Karandeep Kochhar clinched his first PGTI title after turning Pro with a superb three-under-69 in the final round at the TATA Steel PGTI Players Championship, on Thursday.

It was the Chandigarh lad’s second title on the PGTI Tour as his first came in 2016 at the age of 17 when he was still an amateur.

Kochhar, the leader since round two, ended up with a tournament total of 18-under-270 to finish two shots ahead of the rest at the Rs 30 lakh event.

Kochhar, who took home the winning cheque of Rs. 4,84,950, has climbed from seventh to second position in the PGTI Order of Merit.

Pune-based Udayan Mane continues to lead the merit list.

Twenty-six-year-old Sunit Chowrasia of Kolkata, nephew of Indian golfing great SSP Chawrasia, broke the course record with a sensational 10-under-62 to secure the runner-up spot at 16-under-272.

Kochhar (66-68-67-69), the overnight leader by four shots, had hoped for a good stretch over the first six holes and that’s exactly what he managed to do.

He collected birdies on the first two holes with a couple of six feet conversions to get his confidence going. He then missed a couple of birdie chances before his three-putt bogey on the 10th.

A good par followed on the 12th where Kochhar two-putted from 70 feet. Standing on the 16th tee Kochhar realised that Chowrasia was tied for the lead with him at 16-under. He then stepped on the gas and picked up timely birdies on the 16th where he chipped it to five feet and on the 17th where he sank a 20-footer from the fringe.

“I’ve waited a long time for this win. I came close to winning several times in the past and had many top-10 and top-5 finishes over the past three years. So it’s a big relief to finally cross the line and that too at my home course,” said Kochhar.

Chowrasia (69-69-72-62), who was overnight 14th and nine off the lead, had a blazing start as he birdied the first three holes making two 15-footers and a good chip-putt.

With two more birdies on the eighth and ninth, including another conversion from 15 feet, he made the turn at five-under.

Chowrasia, who turned professional in 2018, had a bogey against the run of play on the 10th but came roaring back with birdies on the 11th, 13th and 14th where he sank a 15-footer, made a tough chip-putt and drained a 30-footer respectively.

The soft-spoken Chowrasia, who has a striking resemblance with his famous uncle, came up with another birdie blitz on the last three holes.

A couple of quality chips set up birdies for him from four feet on the 16th and 17th while he made his sixth long conversion of the day, a 15-footer, on the 18th.

Chowrasia thus shattered the previous course record of 64 jointly held by Rashid Khan, Sudhir Sharma and Abhijit Singh Chadha. It was also his best finish on the PGTI circuit.

“I didn’t have very high expectations at the start of the day but the start was terrific and the birdies just kept coming all day. I was in great rhythm throughout. My short-game was excellent and my putter was on fire,” Chowrasia said.

Chandigarh’s Akshay Sharma (69), last week’s winner, took third place at 14-under-274. His state mate Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (67) and Gurugram’s Veer Ahlawat (70) were joint fourth at 13-under-275.

Rashid Khan (75) of Delhi, the last winner of this event, ended tied 29th at even-par-288.

Times2 Desk
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