Oct 10, 2017: India’s rising star Chikkarangappa S. will be drawing from the fond memories of his campaign last year when he returns to the Macau Golf & Country Club for the storied Macao Open next week.
Coming off the back of two consecutive top-10 results, Chikka was determined to push for his breakthrough win at the 2016 Macao Open. The Indian opened his campaign with a two-under-par 69 and grabbed a share of the halfway lead with a 65.
He followed up with a third round 69 to hold a one-shot advantage alongside good friend Anirban Lahiri before heading into the all-important final round where he eventually signed for a 68 to finish in tied-third place, which was his best result for the season.
Despite missing out on his breakthrough win, Chikka took pride in his good showing which helped him finish in 27th place on the 2016 Order of Merit, earning his full Asian Tour card for 2017 for the first time since turning professional in 2013.
Chikka was thrilled to witness the gutsy display of golf by his playing partner Lahiri, who sensationally closed with seven successive birdies to force a play-off with eventual winner Pavit Tangkamolprasert of Thailand at the Macau Golf and Country Club.
“It was really exciting,” said Chikka. “I needed a good week to ensure I keep my Asian Tour card for this year so I was very happy with how I played last year. I enjoyed myself a lot that week. I had a lot of good memories out there playing with Anirban too.”
“We were really battling it out. I was doing fine on the front nine and he was struggling but he recovered with a superb finish where he sank seven straight birdies. That was just so rare to see. I am glad I was there to witness it. I really learnt a lot from that,” said the 24-year-old.
Chikka has endured a lacklustre first-half of the season in 2017, making only three cuts in nine starts. He regained some of his best form at the TAKE Solutions Masters in August where he finished tied-10th.
Sitting at 63rd position on the current Order of Merit, Chikka will need another good showing to break into top-60 and retain his card for 2018.
“Winning my first Asian Tour tile has been a monkey on my back so I hope I can get it off soon. Being in contention has also helped me gain a lot of experiences and I learnt a lot from that. I guess the more you struggle at the start of the career, the more it will help you.
“The first half of the season hasn’t been great but it’s slowly getting better. I lost a bit of feeling with my putter and my driver but I am working on that and slowly getting my confidence back. I am more relaxed and calm on the golf course too,” Chikka added.
Chikka will feature in the US$500,000 Asian Tour event alongside defending champion Pavit, as well as Order of Merit winners Scott Hend of Australia, American David Lipsky and Thai veteran Thaworn Wiratchant.