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Shubhankar Sharma bags TAKE Open title; Aman Raj finishes runner-up

SNS | Chandigarh |

Shubhankar Sharma, the most experienced amongst the youngsters bunched in the top-5 after round three, finally came through at his home course, the Chandigarh Golf Club, on Sunday, to bag the prestigious TAKE Open Golf Championship 2017.

Shubhankar, an Asian Tour regular, posted a clinical five-under-67 in round four to overcome a two-shot overnight deficit and end up with a winning total of 12-under-276 at the Rs. 1 crore event.

Patna’s Aman Raj, the overnight leader by one stroke, carded a one-under-71 in round four, to finish two shots behind the winner in second place at 10-under-278.

Chandigarh’s Akshay Sharma (71) finished a creditable third at nine-under-279.

Shubhankar Sharma (68-70-71-67), lying overnight third, two off the lead, managed to turn it around on the final day sinking seven birdies at the cost of just two bogeys. Sharma, who has five top-5 finishes on the Asian Tour, had a poor start as he three-putted the opening hole for a bogey.

The 21-year-old then got his new putter to work immediately, making three birdie conversions from a range of five to eight feet on the second, third and fifth, which got him back in the mix.

Shubhankar then took control on the back-nine with a run of three birdies against a bogey between the 13th and the 16th. He was well and truly on top after his 40-feet birdie conversion on the 14th.

Even as nearest rivals Aman Raj and Akshay Sharma’s challenge faded away in the final stages, Shubhankar knocked in a 25-footer for birdie on the 18th to seal his fifth title on the PGTI and a winning cheque of Rs. 15 lakh.

Shubhankar Sharma said, “I made an important change to my game today by changing my putter before the round. The new putter really helped my cause in the last round.

“I started poorly with a three-putt for bogey on the first, but told myself to just keep creating birdie opportunities for myself and the putts will drop. I bounced back well with crucial birdies on second and third that helped me claw my way back from a three-shot deficit.

“The turning point were my birdies on the 13th and 14th. I was full of confidence from there on. The par on the 17th turned out to be decisive.

“It’s great to win at my home course and at a tournament that was sponsored by Mr. Srinivasan H R who also sponsors me. It couldn’t have been better for me. I want to thank him for supporting me for the past two years.

“It’s quite satisfying to win at the Chandigarh Golf Club course, which has one of the most challenging layouts in the country. It is a true test of one’s skills. The high scores this week show how tough the course was. I moved here to Chandigarh just last year and the Chandigarh Golf Club has given me a lot of support since then.

“The win gives me loads of confidence to go and do the same on the Asian Tour. I think if I can play the same way on the Asian Tour, my game is good enough to win there as well.”

Aman Raj (73-67-67-71), the third round leader, held on to his lead on the front-nine where he made two birdies and a bogey. The 22-year-old finally conceded the lead with two missed chip-putts that resulted in bogeys on the 11th and 12th.

Aman did fight back with two birdies on the last six holes but still fell well short of the rampaging Shubhankar’s total. It was Aman’s second runner-up finish of the season which pushed him up from 15th to seventh place in the PGTI Order of Merit.

Aman said, “My hitting was solid once again but I paid the price for missing a lot of putts today. Whenever I missed the green, I couldn’t make the chip-putts. But I’ll take a lot of positives from this performance since it gets me in contention in the PGTI Order of Merit race.”

Akshay Sharma (71-68-69-71), who was overnight second, one behind the lead, slipped to third on Sunday after a round of 71 that saw him make four birdies against three bogeys. Akshay’s top-3 finish however, lifted him from 35th to 14th position in the PGTI Order of Merit.

Karandeep Kochhar (70), the 18-year-old rookie from Chandigarh took joint fourth place at eight-under-280 along with Bengaluru’s Khalin Joshi (69).

Gurgaon-based Jyoti Randhawa (68) claimed sixth place at seven-under-281 while Rashid Khan (68) of Delhi and Chandigarh’s Sujjan Singh (70) were a further shot back in tied seventh.