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Dharma clinches Tata Open golf title

- Jamshedpur boy Karan Taunk delights home crowd by coming second

M. Dharma of Bangalore joined the winner’s circle on Professional Golf Tour of India after a three-stroke victory at the 12th Tata Open on Sunday.

The Bangalorean fired a two-under-69 in the final round to end up with a tournament total of 13-under-272. Jamshedpur-based amateur Karan Taunk had a creditable finish as the runner-up at 10-under-275.

On Sunday, the entire field played nine holes each on both courses — Beldih and Golmuri. While one half of the field teed off from Beldih, the other half began its round from Golmuri. Thirty-three golfers with the best scores at the end of round three teed off from Golmuri and finished at Beldih. The par for the combined courses was 71.

M. Dharma (66-70-67-69), the overnight joint leader, made three birdies against a lone bogey in the fourth round to finally break the victory barrier in his ninth year on the professional circuit.

The 27-year-old Dharma, who hails from Karnataka Golf Association (KGA) course in Bangalore, played a steady final round as he made good chip-putts for birdies on the fourth, ninth and 12th to stay ahead through the day. The only blemish on his card was the bogey on the eighth that came as a result of a three-putt.

“I had a fabulous week here as I played to my full potential. My chipping was excellent on Sunday and I never lost focus. The results can be attributed to my brilliant ball-striking,” he said.

Dharma has now climbed from the 19th to seventh place on PGTI’s 2103 Rolex Rankings. He also received the winner’s cheque of Rs. 8,08,250.

The Bangalore golfer, who will become a father for the first time early next year, added: “It feels great to have a title under my belt. I’d like to thank KGA members for their support over the years.”

Jamshedpur amateur Karan Taunk (67-69-69-70), who was third after round three, delighted the home crowd when he finished second after returning a one-under-70 in the last round.

Karan, who will be turning professional at the PGTI’s qualifying school in January 2014, sank four birdies and dropped three bogeys on Saturday. He played a good chip for birdie on the ninth and converted birdie putts from 10 to 15 feet on the 13th and 15th.

“This is a huge boost before I begin my professional career. But, I did not create enough birdie chances for myself on Sunday. I played a couple of poor chip shots on the 10th and 11th that led to bogeys,” Taunk said.

Delhi’s Shamim Khan (68-72-71-66) claimed third place with a total score of eight-under-277. Shamim carded a five-under-66 in the final round with six birdies and a bogey.

Manav Jaini of Delhi finished fourth.

The last event of 2013 PGTI season will held in Calcutta next week and feature top-60 players in the Rolex Rankings after Tata Open and five invites. Rashid Khan leads the Rolex Rankings now.