ON FRIDAY, as 17-year-old Chandigarh golfer Karandeep Kochhar sank eight birdies during his final round and became the youngest player to win on the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) by winning the PGTI Players Championship in Kolkata, Karandeep’s coach Jesse Grewal received a call from another golfer Shubhankar Sharma. Karandeep broke Shubhankar’s record of being the youngest player to win a PGTI event and also became the only Indian amateur player to win a PGTI event when he carded an overall score of 14-under-96 at Tollygunge Club, Kolkata. Bangladesh’s Md Zamal was the only amateur player till Friday to win a PGTI event as an amateur golfer when he won in 2009.
“The feeling has still not sunk in. It will take some time to realise this feat and as an amateur golfer, it is a huge moment in my career. To emerge as the champion with players like Shubhankar, Khalin Joshi and Digvijay Singh competing is always tough and I am happy that the win has come in my second professional event as an amateur. It was raining the whole day and the course was playing longer than usual and the greens were softer. But carding nine birdies helped me and it is the biggest moment in my career so far to break Shubhankar’s record,” said the youngster, who played a total of 28 holes on Friday due to bad weather halting play on Thursday.
Grandson of Dr G S Kochhar, a veteran golfer, Karandeep started learning golf at the age of three years with his father Sandeep Kochhar and was a regular winner in the Category D, C and B on the Indian Golf Union Circuit. The youngster has been playing in Category A as an amateur at IGU level and won Haryana Junior Open at Gurgaon in April early this year. Karandeep was also a part of the Indian junior team which finished 10th in Asia Pacific Junior Championship in Taiwan in August this year apart from winning the IGU Eastern India Junior Golf Championship at the same venue in Kolkata last week.
“Playing at the amateur level has made me learn many things. Last year, I played in Asia Pacific Championship with Aditi Ashok, who played in Rio Olympics this year. The wins in Haryana Junior Open and Eastern India Open came in tough conditions and I am yet to take a call on turning professional. Once I return home, I will discuss it with coaches. I idolise Jeev Milkha Singh and have seen him play many times at Chandigarh Golf Club. To turn professional and win on other tours like him will be my target,” said the youngster. .
Karandeep trains under coach Jesse Grewal and fitness trainer Sagar Diwan at CGA Range, and Grewal believes that Friday’s win will boost his confidence. “Shubhankar called me after the final round today and he told me that Karandeep’s hitting was the best play he has seen at a PGTI event. He played as straight as he can and that is one of his strengths. Scoring an eight under score on final day needs something special and that’s what he did. He has been training with me since he was three years old and he has worked a lot on his fitness during the last two years and it has helped him,” said Jesse.