18 March 2021: Pune-based Udayan Mane’s late flourish which saw him sink birdies on the last three holes propelled him into the third round lead at a total of 11-under-205 at the Delhi-NCR Open Golf Championship 2021 being played at the Golden Greens Golf Club in Gurugram.
The burly Mane, a 10-time winner on the PGTI, struck a second consecutive five-under-67 on Thursday, the day’s lowest round, to move up three spots from his overnight tied fourth position at the Rs. 30 lakh event.
Noida’s Gaurav Pratap Singh, like Udayan, also continued his steady progress up the leaderboard with a second straight 68. Gaurav, a winner on the PGTI, gained two spots in round three to be placed second at 10-under-206.
Udayan Mane (71-67-67) kept chipping away with birdies at regular intervals as he capitalized on the fifth and ninth, both par-5s, by finding the greens in two shots on both occasions. Mane then had a 10-feet birdie conversion on the 12th.
Udayan’s only blemish of the day came on the 14th where he bogeyed after a couple of erratic shots. He finally signed off in style with birdies on the last three holes, the highlight of his round. Mane’s birdie on the 18th was his third on a par-5 on Thursday.
Udayan, who had equaled the PGTI record by winning three events on the trot on the tour from December 2019 to February 2020, said, “I did really well on the par-5s today having made birdies on three out of four holes. I had a birdie chance on the par-5 11th hole too but I three-putted for a par there. I created opportunities for myself on almost every hole today.
“I was in great form just before the forced season break due to the pandemic early last year. I’ve struggled getting back into competitive golf after the lockdown months. I was a bit rusty when the tour restarted in November. But my game and confidence seem to be improving with every passing event.
“Placing it well off the tees will now be the key in the last round as there is trouble on both sides on this golf course.”
Gaurav Pratap Singh (70-68-68), who won on the PGTI back in 2009, raised hopes of a second win on the tour with a solid effort that featured five birdies and a bogey. Gaurav, also blessed with broad shoulders and a strong built like leader Mane, began the day with a birdie on the first but had to wait for his next birdie till the ninth.
Singh, who had a good day with his wedges and made some quality chip-putts, picked up two more shots in quick succession on the 11th and 13th to briefly take the lead and announce himself as a contender for the title. However, after adding another birdie on the 17th, Gaurav dropped a shot on the closing 18th where he had a tough lie in the bunker.
Gaurav, also a two-time winner on the PGTI Feeder Tour, said, “I’m carrying the momentum from my last round at the previous event in Ahmedabad where I struck a six-under. I changed my equipment at the start of the year. Therefore, I’ve had to make some adjustments in my game. But it seems things are finally settling in now since I’ve played some consistent golf this week too after the low score in Ahmedabad.
“I was hitting it close through the day but the putts only started rolling in for me from the ninth hole onwards.”
Patna’s Aman Raj (72-66-69) moved up one place to third position at nine-under-207 after shooting a 69 that featured an eagle, two birdies and a bogey. Aman holed out from the fairway bunker from 167 yards out for an eagle-two on the par-4 14th hole.
Round two leader Chikkarangappa of Bengaluru dropped to tied fourth place at eight-under-208 after his round of 73. Chikka, who won on the PGTI last month in Ahmedabad, was in the lead till the 11th having made three birdies and a bogey. However, he dropped four bogeys between the 12th and the 16th to slip down the leaderboard. He managed to pull one shot back with a birdie on the 18th.
Delhi’s Manav Jaini carded a 69 to join Chikka in tied fourth place.
Bengalurean Khalin Joshi (71) and Gurugram’s Tapy Ghai (73) were in tied sixth place at seven-under-209.
The Chandigarh duo of PGTI Order of Merit leader Karandeep Kochhar (70) and Ajeetesh Sandhu (72) were among the five players in tied eighth place at six-under-210.
Kolkata’s Rahil Gangjee (68) was tied 13th at five-under-211 while Delhi’s Rashid Khan (71), the highest-ranked Indian in the world, was tied 17th at four-under-212.