Manu Gandas continues dominant display with record sixth win of the season

Gurugram’s Manu Gandas continued his dominant display in the 2022 TATA Steel PGTI season with a record sixth win of the year at the inaugural SSP Chawrasia Invitational presented by TAKE, a Rs. 1 crore event, played at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC).

Manu’s (69-66-72-68) sensational victory, also his seventh career win, came after he posted a solid four-under 68 in round four that saw him finish with a total of 13-under 275. Gandas, as a result, saw off the challenge of Indian golfing giants and his playing partners Anirban Lahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar who finished second and third respectively.

Gandas’ triumph at the season’s penultimate event earned him the winning cheque worth Rs. 15,00,000 and helped him climb from second to first spot in the TATA Steel PGTI Rankings and build a significant lead as his season’s earnings moved to Rs. 80,78,938.

Anirban Lahiri (71-65-71-70), who was the third round joint leader along with Manu, took the runner-up spot at 11-under 277 following his last round of 70.

Gaganjeet Bhullar (69-72-67-71) produced a final round of 71 to claim third place at nine-under 279.

Tournament host SSP Chawrasia finished tied 21st at three-over 291. He was the highest-placed among the Kolkata-based professionals.

Chandigarh’s Yuvraj Singh Sandhu secured tied 25th place at four-over 292 and as a result slipped from first to second position in the TATA Steel PGTI Rankings. Yuvraj’s season earnings stand at Rs. 68,47,768 as he now trails Gandas by a margin of over Rs. 12 lakh going into the season-ending event next week.

Manu Gandas began with a couple of good up and down birdies on the first and fourth as Anirban Lahiri kept pace with him by also sinking birdies on both those holes. Manu then began to pull away with two more birdies on the fifth and ninth where he drained putts from a range of seven to 12 feet.

After both the top contenders made birdies on the 12th, the turning point came on the 13th where Anirban dropped a double-bogey missing the green and his chip-putt while Manu made a brilliant par-save with an incredible chip that led to a tap-in. Gandas moved into a comfortable five-shot lead with birdie on the 15th. Manu finally closed the day with bogeys on the 17th and 18th but still managed to edge out Lahiri, who had a birdie on the 17th, by two shots.

Manu said, “I’m happy that I was able to perform the way I wanted to. It’s great to have my sixth win of the season which is a record on the PGTI but I’m just looking to continue doing what I do well and not thinking too much about the records. I stuck to my plans through the week and converted a lot of chances, so it was a satisfying performance. My drives and my putting stood out this week.

“It was a memorable experience to play alongside two of Indian golf’s biggest names Anirban and Gaganjeet. They’ve played in the most elite fields across the world. But today I didn’t think too much about who I was playing with. Instead I only focused on controlling my own game and I did that well.”

Gaganjeet Bhullar picked up three birdies on the first 10 holes to keep himself in the hunt. He then slipped out of contention after trading three bogeys for a birdie between the 12th and the 18th.

The SSP Chawrasia Invitational, the last full-field event of the season, decided the top-60 who earned exemption on the PGTI for next season and also made the cut for the season-ending TATA Steel Tour Championship in Jamshedpur next week. The season-ending event will feature a limited field.