UT golfer wins all-India amateur championship

Already up by five shots on the 14th of 18 holes,local lad Angad Cheema watched competitor Gagan Verma’s shot with bated breath.

Written by Nitin Sharma | Chandigarh | Published: January 23, 2012 1:38:34 am

Already up by five shots on the 14th of 18 holes,local lad Angad Cheema watched competitor Gagan Verma’s shot with bated breath. Had Verma’s shot gone into the hole,the match would go to the last four holes. But Cheema’s caddy friends,who had already started chanting his name,thought otherwise.

True enough,Verma missed the close shot and the caddies lifted 21-year-old Cheema on their shoulders. After taking a small victory lap around the green,Cheema went to his father Brigadier A S Cheema and said,“I was watching you all the time. This was the first time that you were watching me play in an All India Championship and I am happy that the All India title has come at my home course.”

For the Chandigarh-based golfer,being the champion in the 111th edition of the All India Amateur Golf Championship at his home course means a lot and Cheema is already making plans for the season ahead. “This is my third major title in the All India category in the last one year and being the amateur champion in the country means a lot to me. Professional players like Jeev Milkha and Gaganjeet Bhullar have played on this course too and as amateurs,we all hope to emulate them,” said Cheema,who also finished second on the Indian Golf Union (IGU) Order of Merit list and won the title with a 5 & 4 win in the 36-hole competition.

Cheema started playing golf at the age of 13,when his father took him to the Army Golf Course in Wellington,and since then the youngster has been making waves on the amateur circuit. Cheema was a part of the Indian team last year,which won a bronze medal in the Nomura Cup in Fiji after a gap of 18 years and was also instrumental in helping the Indian team win the SAARC Golf Championship in Jaipur last year.

“In golf,it is very important that one learns to play as a team. The Nomura Cup and the SAARC tournament gave me a chance to play against Asia’s best players and we all learnt a lot. The win at RCGC Cup in Kolkata late last year boosted my confidence and it is always good to compete at the amateur level,” said Cheema,who also won the title in the Oxford Golf Tournament held in Pune last year.

Now the country’s second-ranked amateur golfer,Cheema hopes to claim the top rank next season and will now be preparing for the Punjab Open to be held next month. “I have no plans to turn professional soon. I have taken some time off from my studies and I want to continue my winning form in the amateur circuit. Punjab Open will be played in Chandigarh and I will aim for a winning performance as an amateur,” said Cheema,who will turn 22 on January 25.

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