Frenchman Ugo Coussaud takes the top honours with last round 67; Aman Raj finishes as best Indian in tied sixth
Frenchman Ugo Coussaud took the top honours with a gallant final round of five-under 67 at The Challenge 2023 presented by KGA, a US$300,000 event played at the Karnataka Golf Association (KGA) course in Bengaluru.
The 30-year-old Ugo Coussaud (68-67-68-67), who was overnight tied sixth and four off the lead, came from behind in dramatic fashion on Friday to triumph by one shot at a total of 18-under 270 at the event co-sanctioned by the Challenge Tour and PGTI.
Ugo’s first win on the Challenge Tour earned him a prize money cheque of US$48,000 (INR 39,84,000) took him from fifth to first position in the Challenge Tour Road to Mallorca standings.
Spaniard Manuel Elvira (70-67-68-66), who shot the day’s best 66, finished joint runner-up along with Switzerland’s Joel Girrbach (69-64-68-70).
Frenchman Frederic Lacroix (70) and round three leader Lars Van Meijel (73) of The Netherlands, shared fourth place at 16-under 272.
Aman Raj (68-67-69-69) finished as the best Indian in tied sixth place at 15-under 273.
Ugo Coussaud, who has two other top-10 finishes to his credit in the season, conceded just one bogey the whole week. Ugo made long birdie conversions on the eighth and ninth to close the gap with the lead. Coussaud, who finished 21st last week at KGA, then produced some great wedge shots on the back-nine to set up birdies on the 12th, 16th and 17th thus ending up with an error-free last round.
Ugo said, “I didn’t know when it was coming, but I knew it was coming. After five years on the Challenge Tour, it’s not that quick but I’m very happy indeed. It means a lot. I’ve put a lot of work in with my team and it feels good to be on top. My golf has just taken time to come together but now it’s good.
“I’ve been patient for 72 holes. That’s golf. You need to be patient, and it takes more time for some than others but when it comes, it’s good. Today was a rough start but I managed to make a lot of pars, then a few birdies came like they have all week, and then I finished by birdieing 16 and 17 with two good wedges, which was good stuff.”
Aman Raj, lying overnight tied eighth and five off the lead, had a slow start with a three-putt bogey on the second. He then put together four birdies but missed a couple of eagle putts and some birdie putts towards the end that halted his progress.
Aman gained two spots on the final day and posted his fourth top-10 in four starts this season on the PGTI to cement himself in second position in the TATA Steel PGTI Rankings behind Om Prakash Chouhan. He picked up a cheque of INR 8,30,000 for his effort this week.
Aman said, “The putts didn’t fall for me today but I’m pleased with my performance over the last two weeks with eight under-par rounds. The game is trending in the right direction. One got to learn a lot playing alongside the Challenge Tour players over the last two weeks. I’m happy with the way I’ve played so far this season.”
The other Indians in the top-20 were Veer Ahlawat and Kartik Sharma, both finishing tied 11th at 13-under 275 and Karan Pratap Singh who ended tied 18th at 12-under 276.
Round 4 Leaderboard:
270: Ugo Coussaud (FRA) 68-67-68-67
271: Manuel Elvira (ESP) 70-67-68-66; Joel Girrbach (SUI) 69-64-68-70
272: Frederic Lacroix (FRA) 67-66-69-70; Lars Van Meijel (NED) 66-66-67-73
273: Pep Angles (ESP) 66-71-68-68; Aman Raj (IND) 68-67-69-69; Oliver Farr (WAL) 67-69-68-69
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