Nov 05, 2018: Bengaluru-born Chikkarangappa S. playoff win over local favourite Karandeep Kochhar of Chandigarh provided a fitting finale to the first-ever domestic event to be named after a legendary Indian golfer.
The 25-year-old Chikkarangappa (70-66-68-72) came through in a cliffhanger at the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational 2018 presented by TAKE Solutions after he ended the regulation 72 holes tied at the top along with 19-year-old Karandeep Kochhar (66-70-70-70) at 12-under-276 at the Chandigarh Golf Club.
Chikkarangappa finally clinched his 11th title with a par on the first playoff hole even as Karandeep missed a par putt from two feet to the utter disbelief of the home crowd.
Chikkarangappa, the overnight leader by two shots, began the day with two birdies to extend his lead to four shots and emerge as the front-runner. However, there was a twist to follow as Karandeep birdied the fourth, fifth and 10th thanks to some long conversions to launch himself into a two-shot lead even as Chikkarangappa hit rough weather with bogeys on the fifth, sixth and seventh as a result of some errant iron shots.
The tide turned in Chikkarangappa’s favour once again when Kochhar bogeyed the 12th, 13th and 15th after making two three-putts on the stretch to concede a one-shot lead to Chikkarangappa. Both players birdied the 17th but Karandeep got back in the game with an unbelievable birdie conversion from off the green on the 18th to take the match into a playoff.
On the playoff hole, the more experienced Chikkarangappa kept his nerve by making par with a regulation two-putt while Kochhar missed par from two feet.
“I’ve been counting the days since I last won and today I can say that I won after a gap of 745 days. That is a long time and I’m quite relieved and delighted to have ended that winless streak.
“I’ve been through a rough patch over the last two years as I was winning regularly before that. Things just didn’t go right since 2017 as the changes that I made in my game didn’t seem to click. But I feel my swing is back now and so is my form.
“I started really well today and then I lost my way with a few poor shots from the fifth to the seventh. Karandeep was playing really well at that stage. Thereafter, I tried to find my way back by trying for regulations on all holes. That’s when Karandeep dropped shots thanks to a couple of three-putts that cost him dearly.
“I made an exceptional par on the 16th and followed that up with a brilliant tap-in birdie on the 17th that kept me in the contest. Once we were in the playoff, I just knew that I had the advantage as my playoff record has been fantastic over the years. My confidence was quite high going into the playoff and that reflected in my shots,” said Chikkarangappa.
Singh is the first player in the history of Indian golf to play host this week. He is only one of the few Asian Tour greats have assumed responsibility of tournament host, including Korea’s KJ Choi with the CJ Invitational, Thailand’s Boonchu Ruangkit with the Boonchu Ruangkit Championship and countrymen Thongchai Jaidee with the Thongchai Jaidee Foundation.
Reigning Asian Tour number one Gavin Green of Malaysia, also received the honor of hosting the Gavin Green Junior Amateur 2018, that gets underway in December.