On-song Chikkarangappa leads challenge

Ever since he shot to prominence as a talented junior, the 17-year-old has thrived marvellously in home conditions, conjuring one impressive victory after another and leaving fellow golfers wondering what they need to do to stop him from running away with the top prize.

His last three performances at home have been brilliant, two traiblazers sandwiched by a spectacular come-from-behind win that has injected new-found self-belief in the youngster. Last December, he created history by becoming the first person to hold both the junior and senior crowns when he won the All-India Junior championship at his home course, the Eagleton Golf Resort.

This February, trailing by six holes after 12 in the final, the teenager showcased his tremendous fighting spirit, bouncing back from the dead to script a sensational 3&2 win over Pritam Haridas to retain his All-Indian amateur matchplay crown at the KGA before capping his junior career at the same venue three weeks back with a 15-shot win in the Karnataka Junior Open.

“It’s really nice that I haven’t lost a tournament at home,” said Chikkarangappa after a practice round of nine holes. “I get this special confidence when I play at home. I am looking forward to another good week and hopefully, I will be able to keep the winning streak intact.”

Home conditions or not, Chikkarangappa has been nothing if not impressive this season. He heads the amateur Order of Merit list and is fresh from another dogged title triumph in the Inter-State championship in windy Coimbatore last week.

However, the field of 84 here does possess enough talent that can mount a serious challenge to Chikkarangappa. KGA lads Khalin Joshi and Trishul Chinnappa know the course like the back of their hands, while Asian Games silver medallist Abhijit Singh Chandha and the talented Ashbeer Singh Saini have the ammunition to spring a surprise.

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