The McLeod Russel Tour Championship (Nov 28-Dec 1) was the biggest golf show to come to town in years, with 63 pros vying for Rs 1.25 crore prize money at RCGC. Brandon wraps it up, only for Metro....
The saying is, it's not over till the fat lady sings! For the gathering at RCGC on Saturday, it was a fairy-tale ending with home-grown hero S.S.P. Chowrasia, fondly called Chipputtsia, annexing the crown. No one could have imagined the drama that unfolded as Shamim Khan opened strong and got up to 11-under by the 59th hole before a string of bogeys and a double suddenly gave hope to the rest of the field. At the halfway stage, with no real thrills to talk of, SSP looked like he was just having another good day in office ' till his irons started bombarding the pins with alarming regularity backed by a iron-hot putter!
Four birdies on the back nine including the difficult 13th and a 9-under meant the whole crowd watched only the third-last group and made the others feel they were regular Saturday threesomes.
The consolation for Shamim was that his second-place finish meant he was crowned the new order of merit champion for the PGTI Season 2012. Mithun Perera from Sri Lanka added the SAARC touch by making the podium with another solid display after his victory last week in Jamshedpur.
Spare a thought for those going back to Q-School. While the celebrations have been on at the RCGC, there are more than 300-odd players heading to Jamshedpur for the pre-qualifying of the PGTI Q-School hoping to make one of the 44 to a maximum of 48 slots available. Once that job is done, they will be back at the Royal for the final stage of qualifying joined by the players who have finished 61st to a 100 this season, having to stave off the challenge and finish in the top 68 of the tournament to get full-playing rights for next season.
If you think this is bad, let's look west to the final stage of the US PGA Tour where our very own Arjun Atwal is waging his lonely battle, being the lone Indian in the field (discounting Daniel Chopra who plays under the Swedish flag). While he is at 4-under for 72 holes, he still finds himself in 109th position, with only 40 getting provisional cards to play next season. The top 25 get full-playing rights and with two rounds to go, do say a prayer that a miracle happens for our very own Tiger, who is truly deserving of what has come his way battling the world's best on the US PGA Tour.
Hits and misses
Local boy SSP swinging it right
Majority felt that the McLeod Russel hospitality meted out to all was par excellence
The food, with different cuisines on each day ' beginning with Thai and ending with Rajasthani ' and the policy of only beer-pouring to ensure nobody was driving home tipsy was well received
Event management by the whole team, with everyone moving like a well-oiled machine from early morning to late evening
Finally, the opportunity to watch Jeremy Dale in action, who should now rechristen himself magician instead of trick-shot king as his show mesmerised one and all.
The absence of Arjun Atwal, Jeev Milkha Singh and Shiv Kapur
Spectators got better each day but we missed the fair ladies; only a handful turned up to cheer the boys!
It was a new high on the style--meter as the pros turned up at RCGC in pinks, greens and fluorescent shades. By this we also mean that some of them looked like they got dressed in the dark!
The one big myth that was busted was that golf is for the paunchy, 50-plus gentlemen who are too old to chase anything else!
A welcome lot of golfers in their early-20s showed off their six packs instead of family packs!
Knowing that McLeod Russel has committed to the event the next two years, so it's going to be bigger and better.
Golf India 2013
At least two victories on the European Tour, four in Asia and a golden run by amateurs, I hope to see in my Christmas stocking a special gift ' of importance being given to golf sponsorship and getting away from our current obsession of cricket. Cheers to next year!
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