After winning laurels on the domestic PGTI Tour, four highly talented young Indian golfers, including S Chikkarangappa and Shubhankar Sharma, will be hoping for a breakthrough at the higher level when they tee off at the upcoming Hero Indian Open.
If the four golfer, aged between 20 and 24, can do well at the $1.75 million event, they will straight away propel themselves onto both Asian and European Tours, who co-sanction the event.
Led by 23-year-old Chikkarangappa, who has two Asian Development Tour titles against his name, the others are 20-year-old Shubhankar, 24-year-old Khalin Joshi and 20-year-old Honey Baisoya.
While Chikka and Shubhankar also have full playing rights on the Asian Tour, Khalin and Honey are trying to become regulars at a higher level.
Chikka, who considers Anirban Lahiri as a mentor and close friend, has the same coach, Vijay Divecha. He has been very consistent on the Indian Tour, having finished in the Top-six of the PGTI Order of Merit in each of the four years since he turned pro in 2013.
He won it in 2015 besides being second in 2013 and 2014. Last year he divided his time between Indian and Asian Tours and kept his Asian Tour card. Chikka has five Asian Tour Top-10 finishes besides two ADT wins, both in Bengaluru.
Shubhankar, who turned pro when he was barely 16, has been among the contenders time and again in India and even Asian Tour events at home. Since 2014 he has five Top-four finishes in Asian Tour and this season, he was T-11 in Singapore, T-4 in Bangladesh and T-9 in Malaysia, suggesting a win is around the corner.
In last three years Khalin has had five Top-10 finishes on Asian Tour, including a second place at Bangladesh in 2015. Hailing from Bengaluru, like Anirban and Chikka, he is looking very consistent now.
The fourth in the quartet is Honey, who turned pro early at 16, but has only recently found his feet in pro golf with two wins on domestic Tour in late 2016 and an early one in 2017. Now he is ready for his maiden appearance at the Hero Indian Open 2017.
The quartet will not need to look far for inspiration, as they have Rashid Khan, who at 26, is already a two-time winner on Asian Tour, besides having won the Indian Order of Merit twice in 2013 and 2016.
All the top Indians and World No. 25 Rafa Cabrera-Bello will be seen in action at Hero Indian Open, which is now in its third year on the European Tour.