Chance for Indian women golfers to make presence felt

March 25th, 2008 - 4:20 pm ICT by admin  

(Preview)

Gurgaon, March 25 (IANS) Indian golf has so much success on the men’s professional circuit that is seems almost natural to expect some degree of success among women, too. It is in these circumstances that DLF Golf and Country club gets ready to host DLF Women’s Indian Open, which in just two years has become a landmark event on Ladies Asian Golf Tour.

The prize money for the second edition has increased by 20 percent, from $100,000 to $120,000, and also four regular Ladies European Tour players will rub shoulders with some of the most promising golfers in what is a most sought-after 54-hole premier event in the region.

A matter of great pride for the DLF Indian Open is that the winner and the runner-up of last year’s event - Tseng Na Yi of Chinese Taipei and Russee Gulyanamitta of Thailand - have gone on to excel on LPGA Tour. This makes the Indian Open a kind of stepping stone.

Celeste Troche from Paraguay, who was part of the 2007 World Cup winning team, unfortunately pulled out at the last minute due to personal reasons.

However the event sees great competition with several professionals from China, Finland, Britain, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, Chinese Taipei, Vietnam and India and they will vie for the top cheque of $18,000, while the 50th placed golfer stands to gain $600.

The star attraction of the event will be the four Ladies European Tour regulars - Jenni Kuosa (Finland) and Britain’s Fame More, Danielle Montgomery and Kiran Matharu.

In addition, there are tough customers in Brazil’s Iida Maria Priscila, China’s Yan Pan Pan and India’s Smriti Mehra and Irina Brar - who were part of the World Cup field in January.

In all, there will be about 60 professionals and 12 amateurs in the field and after two rounds the ‘cut’ will be applied, leaving the field open for the top-50 to battle it out in the money round.

Obviously, a lot of hope is pinned on the home-grown professionals, the field led by none other than the thoroughbred and favourite Smriti, who knows the DLF course like the back of her hand. Having won the first WGAI’s Skins event here, she must be itching to get her shots right to pocket the $18,000 winner’s cheque.

The Secretary General of the Women’s Golf Association of India, Champika Sayal, warned: “Smriti will be the one to watch this week”.

Smriti, one of the main brains behind the formation of the WGAI, has won virtually every tournament she has played on the domestic circuit. But now what she wants is the Indian Open title. Though she admitted that she hasn’t prepared anything special for the event, she sounded confident.

“I am sure Indian players will make a big impact during this week. I know I am capable of winning it. I also feel the chances of an Indian winning are very high. Even last year we had a couple of Indians in the top five, of which one was an amateur. This year we have a stronger field of players participating, so the results will be very interesting.”

Besides Smriti, there are players likes Irina Brar, Shalini Malik, Sanniya Sharma, Nalini Singh, Nonita Lall Qureshi, Seema Sobti, Pallavi Jain, Preetinder Kaur and Vandana Aggarwal among others who have been keeping the Indian pro circuit on the upswing.

And add the teen brigade of amateur challengers - Tanya Wadhwa (16), Sharmila Nicolet (16), Meher Atwal (13) and Neha Tripathi - to that, and you have a great field.

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