Professional golf returns to Kashmir after 10 years

‘PGTI Kashmir Masters’ underway at Royal Spring Golf Course
•  Prize purse of Rs. 50 lac
•  Third of seven Super Series events in 2014
•  Jyoti Randhawa, Rashid Khan, Himmat Singh Rai, SSP Chowrasia, Rahil Gangjee, Mithun Perera top names in the field

golf Story Pic Farooq Shah (2)Manzoor-ul-Hassan
Srinagar, July 8: Some wearing Professional Golf caps as a leisure pursuit, others are driven from many foreign countries by passion for the game and some are competitive veterans. All 120 golfers are doing their best to make a mark at the international level professional golf tournament which began on Wednesday at Royal Spring Golf Course (RSGC).
The Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI), which is the official sanctioning body of professional golf in India has started ‘PGTI Kashmir Masters’ in the Valley for the revival of professional golf in the state after ten years. Earlier the professional golf tournament was played at RSGC in 2004. Since then only amateur and corporate tournaments were held on the Srinagar turf.
“This tournament will once again help J&K emerge as one of the top destinations for professional tournaments. Locals professionals will also be encouraged seeing the country’s leading golfers in action,” said Ghalib Shah, Managing Director J&K Golf Development & Management Authority.
The tournament, the third of seven super series events scheduled in 2014, carries an attractive prize purse of Rs. 50 lakh. It also has a social Pro-Am event to be played on July 13.
“We are looking at building a strong golfing circuit for tourists in the state. With three world class golf courses at Srinagar, Pahalgam and Gulmarg, Golf enthusiasts from all over the world can come and play,” Shah said.
Nuzhat Gul, Secretary Royal Spring Golf Course said: “Earlier people would come here to spend their leisure time to this course which has been promoting amateur golf. Now this tournament will start a new age for the sport.”
The Royal Springs Golf Course is ranked among the most beautiful courses in Asia. The course designed by Robert Trent Jones II has taken full advantage of the undulating foot spurs of the Zabarwan Mountains that descend onto the shores of the famed Dal Lake. The 6445 metres course at a par of 72, offers a challenge to all levels of players.
The tournament features good number of Indian stars including former Asia no 1 Jyoti Randhawa, reigning Rolex Rankings champion Rashid Khan and Asian Tour regulars SSP Chowrasia, Himmat Singh Rai, Rahil Gangjee and Chiragh Kumar. The other leading Indian golfers in the field include Shamim Khan, Mukesh Kumar, Chikkarangappa and 17-year-old Shubhankar Sharma.
Among foreign players are Sri Lankan Mithun Perera, who is currently ranked second in the Rolex Rankings. The other top foreign professionals in the field are Sri Lankans K Prabagaran, N Thangaraja, Australian Kunal Bhasin, Shivaram Shrestha of Nepal and Bangladesh’s Mohammad Zamal Hossain Mollah.
The tournament will also feature six professionals and five amateurs from the host state of Jammu & Kashmir. The professionals are Bhawani Singh Parmar, Showkat Maqbool Pandow, Fayaz Ahmed Langoo, Shabir Pandow, Rafiq Pandow and Raghav Wahi. The four local amateurs are Majid Khan, Sanjeev Singh, Zubair Hasan Zargar, Naseer Kachroo and Sanjay Wahi.
“In addition to Srinagar, Pahalgam and Gulmarg, two more international standard golf courses are coming up in the state at Leh and Jammu. These two new venues will add to the golfing opportunities in J&K. The course at Leh will be the highest green golf course in the world once it is ready,” Shah said.
In the ongoing event, young Shubhankar Sharma, the winner of the season’s second Super Series event, currently leads the Super Series points table with 1115 points. Anirban Lahiri is in second place with 968.5 points followed by Rahil Gangjee in third place at 686.3 points.
Padamjit Sandhu, Director, PGTI, said, “We are delighted to bring men’s professional golf back to Srinagar after a 10-year hiatus. The magnificent Golf Course is set to witness an exhilarating week of golf as a highly-competitive field vies for the handsome prize and vital Super Series points.”
Danish Aman, the local coordinator and Director Kashmir Events Organisation said:“I feel that professional golf is the best way to exhibit the fabulous golf courses we have in Kashmir. I am sure that these tournaments will go a long way in promoting Kashmir as a major Golfing destination in the country.”

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