Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Indian Golf will get further boost when the $300,000 Classic Golf & Country Club International Championship will make its debuts on September 12.
While the new tournament will further showcase the growing popularity of the sport in the country it will also provide another opportunity to the Indian players to showcase their wares in a very strong field including golfers from 20 countries.
It is perhaps be the first golf tournament in the country to be sponsored and hosted by a golf club. With the originally scheduled Take Solutions’ event moved to early next year, the Classic Golf & Country Club (CG&CC) stepped in to fill the vacuum . As a result, one of the oldest golf facilities in the National Capital Region will host two dollar-events – the other one being the $400,000 Panasonic Open – in the same season.
The Jack Nicklaus Signature course, where the last Asian Tour event was the 2009 SAIL Open, will witness a full field of 156 players from 24 countries. The winner’s share is $54,000. Even the 72nd-placed golfer will receive $600.
Since 2011, Asian Tour events in India have produced at least two homegrown winners each year, barring once in 2013, when there was just one winner. But in 2013, Indians also had a runner-up in another event and three Top-5 finishers in the third event.
Indian golfers, who have dominated home events will be strong favourites. Leading the pack will be two stars, Viraj Madappa and Khalin Joshi, both from Bengaluru and who broke through on the region’s premier Tour last season with a win each in Bengaluru and Delhi. The field will also include another talented Ajeetesh Sandhu, who won his first Asian Tour event in Taiwan in 2017.
S Chikkarangappa, has been a topper on the domestic pro circuit will be looking to etch his name on the newly instituted Trophy. He has won twice on the Asian Development Tour and has also represented India at the World Cup, but is still in search of his first Asian Tour win.
“I have come close many times, but not quite closed the deal. But now with the Classic Golf and Country International, I am hoping the home atmosphere will help me get past the line,” said Chikka.
Two-time Asian Tour winner, Rashid Khan, who has, however not won since 2014, will also be in the field as will be Chiragh Kumar, also a winner on the Asian Tour. A new bunch of rookie pros like Aadil Bedi will also be looking at a breakthrough win.
The field at Classic Golf & Country Club International Championship will have players from South Africa, Australia, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Taiwan and Argentina are taking part in the event, making it a well represented International event.
The tournament also features recent winners such as Miguel Carballo of Argentina, who is fresh from his win at Indonesia Open; Taehee Lee (Korea) and Malcolm Kokocinski (Sweden).
The entry list includes former Asia No. 1 Jyoti Randhawa and multiple Asian Tour winner, Mardan Mamat.
The field also includes two amateurs, Harshjeet Sethie and Kartik Sharma, who will be representing India at the prestigious Nomura Cup later; as well as Saurav Rathi who will be turning professional in this event.
The Classic Golf & Country Club is considered one of the finest courses in India and South Asian region. The retreat is part of a sprawling 300-acre verdant estate, showcasing South Asia’s only 27-hole signature golf course designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus.
It has an 18-hole Signature Championship Course and a 9-hole Signature Canyon Course built at the foothills of the picturesque Aravallis. The hillocks and knolls lend themselves ideally to create enticing fairways, cunning and tricky greens and in-play water, which are enough to challenge any golfer.