Uncertainty over Indian Masters golf as sponsors cry off

December 4th, 2008 - 8:56 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 4 (IANS) Golfer Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia, who created history by winning the first-ever European Tour event in India, may not even get a chance to defend the title early next year. The reason is neither his form nor fitness, but the global economic crisis.The crisis is certain to swallow the EMAAR-MGF Indian Masters, which made its debut in India amidst much fanfare with the highest-ever prize purse - in India - at $2.5 million.

Sources say sponsors EMAAR-MGF have expressed their inability to back the tournament that was slated for February. This comes close on the heels of the cancellation of another tournament sponsored by the EMAAR-MGF. The event, the Indian Ladies Masters, was to have been held in Bangalore in December.

The two tournaments are sponsored by EMAAR-MGF and promoted by ‘golf in DUBAI’.

EMAAR, who have also been awarded the contract to build the troubled and controversy-ridden Commonwealth Games Village, have had to face the brunt of the economic crisis. Earlier this year, the company was forced to scrap its initial public offer (IPO).

The EMAAR-MGF Indian Masters, which had faced a lot of controversy even before its start, is co-sanctioned by the Asian, the European and Indian Tours. The European Tour had initially planned to go ahead with the tournament without the Asian Tour. And when top Indian professionals threatened to boycott the event, a compromise was reached and the event was then co-sanctioned by European, Asian and Professional Golfer’s Tour of India (PGTI).

Both European Tour and ‘golf in DUBAI’ did make attempts to find a new sponsor, but were unable to find any in these troubled times.

After the initial hiccups, the Indian Masters at the Delhi Golf Club in February was a huge success and saw the participation of top European golfers like Ernie Els, David Howell and Phillip Price.

Chowrasia won $416,660, which was the biggest pay cheque received by any player on Indian soil. The event also witnessed three Indians among the top-5. Digvijay Singh finished fourth, winning $115,500 and Gaurav Ghei finished tied sixth and picked up $66,200.

The EMAAR-MGF Indian Ladies Masters was the penultimate event of the 2008 Ladies European Tour (LET) calendar. LET’s Executive Director, Alexandra Armas, had however said that every effort was being made to reinstate the tournament in 2009.

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