Panchkula: Top golfers of the country will be seen in action in the TATA Steel PGTI Players Championship which gets underway here from November 4.
The tournament worth Rs. 30 lakh in prize money will be played across two venues – Panchkula Golf Club (in Haryana) and Chandigarh Golf Club – both situated in the Chandigarh Tricity region.
As per the format for the event one half of the field will play their first round at Panchkula while the other half will play their first round at Chandigarh. In round two both the halves of the field will switch venues. The third and fourth rounds will only be played at Panchkula.
The Championship the fourth event of the 2020-21 season will feature players including Rashid Khan, Udayan Mane, Ajeetesh Sandhu, Khalin Joshi, Chikkarangappa and Aadil Bedi, among others. The season resumes events after its forced break of about eight months due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdown. The current season has been extended till 2021.
With the resumption of events on the PGTI, the race for berths at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics also resumes as tournaments offer valuable Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points. The top two Indians in the list will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics on the revised cut-off date of June 21, 2021. Rashid Khan is currently the highest-ranked Indian in the world at 252 followed by Udayan Mane at 290 while Shubhankar Sharma is third at 348.
Two-time Asian Tour winner Rashid Khan said, “It feels great to be getting back to competitive golf after such a long break. I practiced hard and kept myself match-ready through this time. I’m focused on my next big goal which is qualifying for the Olympics.
“Chandigarh Golf Club has more trees and narrower fairways as compared to Panchkula Golf Club so it will be interesting to play across these two venues as the playing conditions will be different and one will need to adapt well. I know these two golf courses well and have won at Chandigarh in the past so that gives me good confidence going into the event,” added the Delhi-based golfer and three-time winner of the PGTI Order of Merit.
Interestingly, youngsters dominate the rankings with 29-year-old Udayan Mane leading with season’s earnings of Rs. 14,66,500. The Pune-based Mane won the first two events of the season back in February. The next four on the rankings – Veer Ahlawat, Viraj Madappa, Aman Raj and Aadil Bedi – are all 25 years and below in age. Aadil Bedi won the last event held in March this year after a record six-hole playoff victory against Udayan Mane.
Udayan Mane said, “I had good momentum at the start of the year, having won three events on the trot on the PGTI. So I was looking forward to the rest of the season. But even after the break in the season, I continued to work on my game and the processes. “I used this time to work hard on my fitness. I realized I needed to put in work on my fitness when I lost the six-hole playoff to Aadil in Kolkata. I felt my energy levels were not as high as required during that extended phase of play and that led to my loss.”
The Chandigarh duo of Ajeetesh Sandhu and Aadil Bedi will be leading the local challenge. Ajeetesh had won the last event staged in the Tricity (Chandigarh Golf Club) in November last year.
Ajeetesh, an Asian Tour winner, said, “It was tough to keep yourself motivated during the long phase away from the game as there was uncertainty about the resumption of professional events. It was quite frustrating at times. But we knew that some time in the future the tour would resume. Thankfully it has.
“I have good memories from my win in Chandigarh last year so that works in my favour. Playing across two courses will be a good test of skill levels. As Panchkula Golf Club is playing hard and fast and Chandigarh Golf Club is playing soft, a variety of shots will be needed in these varying conditions.”