As 25-year-old Chikkarangappa won his ninth title on the PGTI circuit after winning the play-off against Chandigarh golfer Karandeep Kochhar in the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational presented by Take Solutions, the Bengaluru golfer was surrounded by local caddies and players for the celebrations. Sometime later as fellow player and latest Indian golfer to win on Asian Tour, Khalin Joshi hugged Chikkarangappa, some of the junior players too asked for autographs from the champion.
Having worked as a ball boy at the Eagleton Golf Club in Bengaluru in the early 2000s, Chikkarangappa, whose father worked as a mason at his Rangegowdanadoddi village, won a prize money of Rs 24,24,750. He was happy to win the tournament being named after India’s most successful golfer Jeev Milkha Singh.
“I started playing the game while working as a ball boy at the Eagleton Golf Club. My father Seenappa used to work as mason at our village and I saw some golfers hitting balls at the club. The only way I could play was the opportunity to work as a ball boy at the club and that’s where the journey started for me under coach Vijay Divecha sir and with seven-time Asian tour winner Anirban Lahiri. Initially my mother Revamma would tell me to concentrate hard on my studies but as I won, they understood the importance of the game. Today to win a tournament being named after Jeev sir is a special feeling for me. As India’s most successful golfer, he is the one who made youngsters like me from villages to play golf and aspire to win. My last win came 745 days ago but Jeev sir has been playing on the tour for such a long time that we all want to have a career like him,” said Chikkarangappa, who last won the title in the form of Take Open in Bengaluru in 2016.
While the Bengaluru golfer collected the winning trophy, 13-time international winner Jeev Milkha Singh was also watching. “The way Chikkarangappa played and conducted himself on the course and off the course speaks volumes about his talent and the desire to excel. It’s good to see such youngsters winning repeatedly and even though he started as a ball boy, he has always banked upon his talent. His knowledge of the sport is tremendous and he has the aspiration to play in PGA Tour, European Tour. Last year, Shubhankar won on European Tour after winning here and I hope Chikkarangappa can achieve the same,” said Jeev Milkha Singh.
As Kochhar forced the match into a play-off after a birdie conversion off the green on the 18th hole, Chikkarangappa, who sank three birdies apart from three bogeys to have an ever par round, claimed his fourth win in play-off in his career with a par on first playoff hole. Karandeep missed an easy two-feet par putt which meant that the Bengaluru golfer had to make a one-feet par putt to win the title. Earlier, both the golfers finished the regulation 72 holes tied at 12-under-276 forcing the playoff. Chikkarangappa had 14 greens in regulation and a total of 31 putts in the round.
“I just told myself to play for whatever chances I got on this golf course. I had given away some chances to make birdies but I knew that I can have more such chances. The key was to shape the ball at such kind of golf course. Adjusting to the two-paced greens was also the key. I had won thrice in a play-off in the past and I knew after the regulation round, competing in play-off round is like competing in a practice round for me,” said Chikkarangappa, who has also two wins on the Asian Development Tour.
Karandeep Kochhar, who was behind by two shots from Chikkarangappa at the start of the day, sank five birdies but had three bogeys to finish the round with two-under-70. Seasoned campaigner Jyoti Randhawa was also in the hunt till the last home where he made a bogey after finding the water hazard. “I guess I was putting well today as compared to yesterday. The par save on the 16th hole was also crucial and the birdie off the green on the final hole meant that I kept my chances in the tournament alive. Yes I am disappointed after losing the play-off but as a golfer, you learn from such kind of situations too,” said Kochhar, who pocketed a prize money of Rs 16,74,750.