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M Dharma clinches 12th TATA Open

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Jamshedpur’s Karan Taunk finishes runner-up
Jamshedpur
: M Dharma of Bangalore joined the winner’s circle on the PGTI after a three-stroke victory at the 12th TATA Open in Jamshedpur on Sunday.

Dharma 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 runner-up finish at 10-under-275.

During the prize distribution ceremony at Beldih, Tata Steel managing director, TV Narendran gave away the prizes to the winners. The prize money was Rs 50 lakhs. The MD announced that the next year the prize money would be Rs 75 lakhs.

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 the 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 potential and just had one ordinary round on the second day. My chipping was excellent today and I never lost focus.

My good results in the last five weeks can be attributed to my brilliant ball-striking,” said Dharma, who has now climbed from 19th place to seventh position on the PGTI’s Rolex Rankings for 2013 after picking up the winner’s cheque of Rs. 8,08,250 at the 12th TATA Open.

The Bangalore-based professional, who will become a father for the first time early next year, added, “It feels great to finally cross the line and have a title under my belt. I would now like to end the year on a high with a good performance next week as well. I would like to thank the KGA and its members for their continuous support over the years.”

Local amateur Karan Taunk (67-69-69-70), lying third after round three, delighted the home crowd with his second-place finish 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 was Taunk’s best-ever finish in a professional event.

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 that featured six birdies and a bogey.

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