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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Professional golf resumes next month in India

Professional golf will resume in India from next month with Chandigarh and Panchkula hosting the first three out of five tournaments to be held in the country till the end of this year.

Written by Nitin Sharma | Chandigarh | Updated: October 9, 2020 3:10:14 pm
Jeev Milkha Singh and Ajeetesh Sandhu play with masks on after Chandigarh Golf Club reopened. Express

Professional golf will resume in India from next month with Chandigarh and Panchkula hosting the first three out of five tournaments to be held in the country till the end of this year. Amid the pandemic, the tournaments will see several firsts. It will be for the first time that a single tournament will be played over two different 18-hole golf courses — Chandigarh Golf Club and Panchkula Golf Club. Further, no carts will allowed for professional golfers, players will be required to reach 60 minutes before tee-off and regular sanitisation of course and holes will be undertaken.

These details were revealed by Uttam Singh Mundy, the CEO of Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI).

The last time Indian golfers were seen playing on the PGTI circuit was in March at the Bengal Open before the lockdown. It will be the first time after that a golf tournament in India will be played over two 18-hole golf courses simultaneously.

According to Mundy, “After consultation with all the stakeholders and golfers, PGTI has decided to resume the professional golf tournaments and in a first, the first two tournaments — PGTI Players Championship (Panchkula) and PGTI Players Championship (Chandigarh) — will be played on two different courses Chandigarh Golf Club and Panchkula Golf Club simultaneously. Under the present circumstances, we have to adapt and that’s why half of the field will be teeing off at Chandigarh Golf Club and half of the field will be teeing off at Panchkula Golf Club for the first two days. Apart from that, golfers will undergo Covid test, have to arrive 60 minutes prior to tee time, have to leave the premises after the end of their round apart from other measures. While golf has resumed on the European and PGA Tours abroad, it has been a tough phase for golfers and we are happy that golf is resuming in India from Chandigarh.”

One of the India’s highest prize money tournament, having prize money of Rs 1.5 crore — Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational, will also be played at Chandigarh Golf Club from December 3 to December 6 apart from the two PGTI Players Championship being hosted by Chandigarh and Panchkula simultaneously in November.

While sporting activities with less than 200 persons were allowed under the latest unlock guidelines by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) starting October 15, golf had seen the resumption of practicing and opening of golf clubs in May earlier this year.

A PGTI tournament sees the presence of 110-130 golfers in the field. While the PGTI has not announced anything about the rest of the tournaments, it will host a total of five tournaments till December with the last two being played at Digboi and Jamshedpur, respectively.

The last time the cream of Indian golfers played at Chandigarh Golf Club was during the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational played in October last year. The 14-time international winner and India’s most successful golfer till date, Jeev Milkha Singh, too will be playing in the forthcoming PGTI tournaments, including the tournament named after him.

“It’s the end of a long wait for Indian golfers and especially for those golfers, who were having a tough time due to non-playing and winning any prize money. While most of the golfers have been practicing since last 3-4 months, playing in a tournament will be like a new challenge for us. Playing at two different golf courses in the same tournament is also a new thing and I will have to adapt to this idea. The PGTI Tour offers world ranking points and it will also help the top-ranked golfers in gaining important points in a bid to qualify for next year’s Olympics. I am also excited to play in Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational and I am aiming for a top place finish this time,” said Jeev Milkha Singh.

Chandigarh Golf Club and Panchkula Golf Club will play host to PGTI Players Championship (Panchkula) starting from November 4-7 followed by PGTI Players Championship (Chandigarh) from November 9-12.

The Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational will be played at Chandigarh Golf Club from December 3-6.

“The Chandigarh Golf club has seen golfing actions in May and we are glad that competitive golf will resume in India at Chandigarh Golf Club and Panchkula Golf Club. As per the PGTI guidelines and club guidelines, golf carts will not be allowed for the players and we will be allowing caddies with social distancing. Since it will be the first time that a tournament will be played at two golf courses simultaneously for the first two days, officials will be trained to officiate under the new system,” said Sandeep Singh Sandhu, president, Chandigarh Golf Club.

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