Himmat Rai benefits as Garcia turns down Singapore Open invite (Diary)

November 11th, 2008 - 6:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Sentosa, Nov 11 (IANS) Phil Mickelson may have lost his World No. 2 ranking to Sergio Garcia as the latter won the HSBC Champions, but the biggest beneficiary of that seems to India’s young pro Himmat Rai.Young Rai, playing his first season as a professional on Asian Tour, sure is a happy man.

One spot on the $5 million Barclay’s Singapore Open was reserved for the winner of HSBC Champions. But with Garcia turning that down invite, Himmat as the first reserve got a start in the biggest event of his fledgling career.

An Indian party at Singapore
The practice putting green right behind the Sentosa Golf Club may well have made the Singapore Open seem an Indian event. The driving range and the green was teeming with Indians.

Giving their skills a final touching-up before the event begins Thursday, were almost a dozen Indians who will be in action.

“A good week could change the career-path for some youngsters,” says Jeev.

“Look how Chowrasia moved up by winning in Indian Masters. Shiv Kapur is learning the ropes in Europe. I feel Indian golf has come a long way and is now on the threshold of making it big time. The sheer number of youngsters waiting to break out is amazing.”

There are 12 Indians already in - Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal, S.S.P. Chowrasia, Jyoti Randhawa, Gaurav Ghei, Shiv Kapur, Amandeep Johl, Rahil Gangjee, Digvijay Singh, Gaganjeet Bhullar and Arjun Singh. They were joined by Himmat Rai.

Lahiri first on waiting list
Anirban Lahiri, who flew in from Bangalore, where he finished third in an Indian domestic tour event, is now the first reserve for the main draw. In case of any pullout, Lahiri will get a start. And if he gets, India’s challenge will swell to a Baker’s Dozen with 13 players in the field.

Indians for Indians
Many of the top tour stars like to take their caddies along and that trend is growing even amongst Indian golfers. While Jeev has Jenny Squire, the lady who was on the bag at the Masters for him and Austrian Open, here in Singapore, many other Indians have Indians as regular caddies.

Jyoti Randhawa continues with Bunty Randhawa, Shiv Kapur brings over Thakur from DGC for events in Asia, while Chowrasia travels with friend and physical trainer, Pritam Saikia, who was a pro himself on Indian Tour.

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