19 March 2021: You can only keep a good man away for so long. Udayan Mane was on a roll when coronavirus stalled his relentless pursuit, living on the edge of excellence as he produced a series of stunning results. He also won twice in February when the pandemic shut sport down around the world. After a sedate 71 to open the week, Mane produced some consistent golf to charge up the leaderboard and clinch a two-stroke victory over Shivendra Singh Sisodia, S Chikkarangappa and Aman Raj. After the opening round Mane shot 67-67-69 for a 14-under 274 in the Delhi-NCR Open with the troika behind him at 276.
Order of merit leader Karandeep Kochhar finished in fifth to stay in the points with a purposeful 67 in the final round. The low round of the day was made by Sandeep Singh, with a bogey-free 65. There were just four of those cards on Friday without any damage. Mane, Sisodia and Aman were the other golfers that could remain bogey-free through the day.
Two birdies in the first three holes, a serene march through to the 18th and a birdie there to sign off in style. Not a blemish along the way. It was Mane at his clinical best as he did more than enough to secure his eleventh victory on the PGTI Tour.
“My game-plan today was to go bogey-free, put the ball on the fairway and the green and take my two-putt. I was focused on a hot start which I did get. My good putts didn’t roll in thereafter but I decided not to let the frustration creep in. Finally, I got the very crucial birdie on the 18th.
“On the 18th, Aman’s eagle putt and my birdie putt were almost the same distance so we had to call in the referee to measure our distance from the pin in order to decide who putts first. My putt was a little longer so I went first. That kind of helped me as there was lesser pressure while putting first.
“I was well aware that I needed a par or better on the 18th that’s why I played a little conservatively. My tee shot was a long one so it made sense for me to go for the green instead of laying up. I went for it and made a great up and down for birdie.
“The win couldn’t have come at a better time for me as the race for qualification to the Olympics is quite intense at the moment with the likes of Gaganjeet, Rashid, Chikka, Karandeep and Aman Raj, all being strong contenders.
“I still have some time to get back to where my game was at the start of the season last year. But the work I’ve put in is now paying off. I just need to keep doing the same thing, I’m definitely on the right track. My tee shots and putting stood out this week. I also gave myself a lot of birdie chances. I dedicate this win to my late grandfather who passed away last month.
Sisodia gained three strokes in the last two holes. He finished with a birdie at the 17th and an eagle at the 18th for a brilliant 66 to join Chikkrangappa (68) and Aman Raj (69).
Kochhar made three birdies in four holes, as he produced an impactful final round 67 to secure the last of the point earning positions on the leaderboard. Gaurav Pratap Singh was dented by back to back birdies at 7 & 8, but he recovered to produce consecutive birdies the 15th to post an even 72 for sixth place.
Kartik Sharma has shown plenty of promise this week. And six birdies helped him shoot an eventful 69 for a tie in seventh with Sanjeev Kumar. Sharma’s hopes received a boost with the help of two birdies in the last three holes. Sanjeev shot four birdies in his 69 for an overall score of 279.
Sandeep made a symmetrical 31 on the front nine as he shot an impressive 65 to close the week in T9 with Khalin Joshi, who also had a 65 in the second round.