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Chikka bags Eagleburg Masters title

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Bengaluru's S. Chikka shot a sparkling five-under 67 in the final round to end up with a winning total of 15-under 273 at the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) Eagleburg Masters on Friday.

With M. Dharma (69) and Rahil Gangjee (70) finishing as joint runners-up at 13-under 275, the host city of Bengaluru, bagged the top three positions in the tournament.

Chikka (67-69-70-67), lying overnight tied second, one off the lead, lived up to the tag of being the pre-tournament favourite with a timely 67 in the final round.

The 22-year-old reigning Rolex Ranking champion, who had struggled with his putting through the week, got his confidence going early in the fourth round when he converted a 12-feet birdie putt on the fourth, the first par-five on the course.

As Chikka picked up birdies on the next two par-fives, the seventh and 10th, and followed that up with another on the 11th, his confidence soared. Then there was a minor hiccup for him against the run of play on the 14th where he dropped a stroke.

But the two-time winner on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) came roaring back with a birdie on the 15th to make it four out of four on the par-fives. Thereafter, Chikka took a decisive two-shot lead over closest rivals Dharma and Gangjee, with his last birdie on the 17th where he drove the green.

He finally crossed the finish line two ahead of the rest to the delight of the local crowd that included his close friend and India's golfing numero uno Anirban Lahiri.

A relieved Chikka, who had closed the third round with three consecutive bogeys, said, "I feel tough situations bring out the best in me. I never felt the pressure today and just focused on converting putts, making birdies and achieving my target total of 15-under.

"With the way I putted this week, I still can't believe that I shot a 15-under. I had a good practice session with Anirban and my coach Vijay Divecha yesterday. Both of them suggested some minor adjustments in my putting that worked out well for me," added Chikka, who won his ninth career title (eighth on the PGTI).

Chikka, who took home the winner's cheque worth Rs. 4,50,000 has now climbed from 28th to 12th position in the Rolex Ranking as his season's earnings reached Rs. 7,41,700. Panchkula-based Shubhankar Sharma continues to lead the rankings with earnings of Rs. 15,45,180 for the season.

Dharma (65-73-68-69) secured his second joint runner-up finish of the season and moved up one spot from seventh to sixth in the money list. Dharma shot a bogey-free 69 on day four.

Faridabad's Abhinav Lohan finished fourth with a total of 10-under 278, while Gurgaon's Manu Gandas claimed the fifth place at 279.