Gaganjeet Bhullar sees it home with a final round 66, wins his second TATA Steel Tour Championship crown

Jamshedpur : Indian star golfer Gaganjeet Bhullar lived up to his reputation of being the pre-tournament favourite as he saw it home with an error-free final round of six-under 66 to triumph by a solitary shot at the TATA Steel PGTI’s season-ending TATA Steel Tour Championship 2023, an INR 3 crore event, played at the Beldih and Golmuri Golf Courses in Jamshedpur.

Chandigarh-based Gaganjeet (64-66-67-66), who won the TATA Steel Tour Championship for the second time following his previous victory in 2020, totaled 25-under 263 for the week to bag INR 45 lakh, the biggest winner’s cheque on the PGTI. It was the lowest winning total at the TATA Steel Tour Championship as Bhullar improved upon his 24-under 264 from the 2020 edition.

Rahil Gangjee (70-62-65-67) finished runner-up at 24-under 264 after firing a 67 in the last round. Bengaluru-based Gangjee’s prize money cheque of INR 30 lakh moved him up 26 spots in the PGTI Order of Merit as he ended the year in sixth place.

Chandigarh’s Angad Cheema (66-66-65-68) had a creditable third place finish at 23-under 265 in Jamshedpur. Cheema gained four spots on the money list to end the year in fifth place.

Om Prakash Chouhan (72-68-65-68) of Mhow, Madhya Pradesh, took the coveted No. 1 spot in the TATA Steel PGTI Ranking (PGTI Order of Merit) after finishing tied 10th at 15-under 273 at the Tour Championship this week. The 37-year-old Chouhan closed the 2023 season with record earnings of INR 1,18,26,059, the highest ever for a PGTI season, to finish number one in the money list by a fair distance. Om Prakash, who is attached with the Kalhaar Blues & Greens golf course in Ahmedabad, broke the previous record of season’s earnings of INR 88,50,688, set by Manu Gandas in 2022.

Chouhan won four titles and posted eight other top-10s this season. He thus became the first player to breach the INR 1 crore mark in season’s earnings in a single season on the PGTI. As a result of his Order of Merit triumph, Chouhan has now earned himself a card on the DP World Tour for the 2024 season.

Patna’s Aman Raj finished second on the PGTI Ranking with season’s earnings of INR 91,90,745. Aman took tied seventh place at 16-under 272 in Jamshedpur.

All four rounds of the event saw one half of the field play their first nine holes at Golmuri Golf Course and second nine at Beldih Golf Course while the other half of the field played Beldih first followed by Golmuri. The par for the round was 72. The leading groups started at Golmuri and finished at Beldih.

Gaganjeet Bhullar, a 12-time international winner, ended up as the wire-to-wire winner in Jamshedpur as he led the field from round one till round four. Gaganjeet’s 12th PGTI win came as a result of an eagle and four birdies on Sunday. Bhullar accumulated three birdies on the front-nine with two up and downs and a brilliant tee shot on the par-3 seventh that landed one foot from the hole.

The 35-year-old Gaganjeet, who originally hails from Kapurthala in Punjab, further strengthened his claim to the title after finding the par-5 12th green in two shots that set up an eagle conversion for him. Bhullar’s final birdie came on the 15th where he landed his approach to four feet.

Bhullar, who looked unruffled through the day, said, “I was focused on winning and was solid today from tee to green. It was all about repeating what I had done in the previous three rounds. I executed my plans well today and played some great iron and wedge shots. The two-shot swing in my favour on the 14th and 15th holes was probably the turning point today. I would like to thank TATA Steel for this fabulous season-ending event.”

Rahil Gangjee enjoyed a two-shot lead over Bhullar after the first 13 holes thanks to his eight birdies and a bogey. However, Rahil had a poor final stretch as he dropped two bogeys over the last five holes that swung the match back into Gaganjeet’s favour. Gangjee left his five-feet par-putt on the 17th just one roll short. It was Rahil’s best finish of the season.

Angad Cheema’s fourth round of 68 featured an eagle, five birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey. Cheema thus registered his second top-3 finish of the year.

Yuvraj Singh Sandhu’s nine-under 63 was the day’s best score and helped him finish fourth at 20-under 268.  

The two Jamshedpur-based professionals, Karan Taunk (one-under 287) and Kurush Heerjee (10-over 298) finished tied 61st and 72nd respectively.

Varun Chopra is PGTI Emerging Player of the Year

Twenty-four-year-old rookie Varun Chopra of the United States won the PGTI Emerging Player of the Year title with season’s earnings of INR 33,15,577, the highest among the rookies. Varun, who claimed tied 14th place at 14-under 274 at the season-ending event, secured a creditable 15th position on the PGTI Order of Merit as a result of four top-10s in the season including two runner-up finishes.

Final Leaderboard:

263: Gaganjeet Bhullar (64-66-67-66)

264: Rahil Gangjee (70-62-65-67)

265: Angad Cheema (66-66-65-68)

268: Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (73-66-66-63)

269: Rashid Khan (69-65-68-67)

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