Star-studded international field ready for India’s biggest golf battle at Avantha Masters




Greater Noida, March 13: The fourth edition of the €1.8million Avantha Masters, which is tri-sanctioned by European, Asian and PGTI Tours will see the strongest-ever field to have assembled in India. A plethora of champions, ranging from a highly successful Ryder Cup captain to five others who have figured in Ryder Cup teams to 50 winners from European Tour and another 50-odd from the Asian Tour, will adorn the event, which is the richest in South Asia.

Star-studded international field ready for India’s biggest golf battle at Avantha Masters

Star-studded international field ready for India’s biggest golf battle at Avantha Masters

But the home challenge led by young Anirban Lahiri, winner of his third Asian Tour title only last week at the SAIL-SBI Open, and established stars like Jeev Milkha Singh, Shiv Kapur, Gaganjeet Bhullar and SSP Chowrasia cannot be taken lightly.

Chowrasia, the only Indian to have an European Tour event in India – not once but twice – will be looking to complete an incredible three-in-a-row. Chowrasia  was the first Indian to win a European Tour event on home soil – and only the third, after Arjuna Atwal and Jeev Milkha Singh, to win one anywhere – when he captured the Indian Masters title in 2008.

The self-taught 34-year-old, Chowrasia, repeated the feat three years later at the DLF Golf & Country Club. “It would be nice to win the Avantha Masters on a third different golf course. I have European Tour wins in DGC and DLF and Jaypee would add nicely to that,” said Chowrasia, who started 2013 well making the cut in each of the three legs in Middle East and finished tied 17th at Abu Dhabi.

He added, “I’m very excited about playing the Avantha Masters – I’m sure the tournament will be a great success. It’s the one all the Indian players want to win, and hopefully I can come out on top again.

“I’ve played Jaypee Greens many times, so I know what to expect. The fairways are quite wide, so unless the rough is very thick I think the scoring will be quite low. There is also a Golf Academy there which has a great driving range and practice facilities for the amateurs and us pros, so it’s a great venue for the tournament.”

Lahiri has had no rest off after his win last week’s SAIL-SBI Open win, which saw him rise to 155th on World Rankings. His goal is to move to higher Tours. “I am keen on doing well at Avantha Masters and move to higher Tours. I have had a great start and would like to build on it,” he said.

About the fact that his wins having come at home and at DGC, he said, “There’s a need to win always and to get better. There’s a need to perform on every surface on every tour and on every condition. A lot of people ask me questions if I can play abroad and yes I feel I can win abroad as well.”

 

“I’m hoping to win outside of India this year but I won’t mind if I win in India again,” he added with a reference to Avantha Masters.

Led by the 2010 Ryder Cup captain Montgomerie, the field also features five other players who have made Ryder Cup appearances. Apart from eight-times European Number One Montgomerie, who led Europe to a memorable win at the 2010 Ryder Cup, there are also Italian Edoardo Molinari, Ignacio Garrido of Spain, England’s David Howell, Frenchman Thomas Levet and Welshman Philip Price.

Alvaro Quiros, a six-time winner on the European Tour, has won three times in the Middle East including the highly prestigious Dubai World Championships in 2011. He will be making his debut at the Avantha Masters.

Some of the other big names in the strong international field at Jaypee Greens GC, include European Tour winners Simon Dyson, Søren Kjeldsen and Thomas Levet.

All three past champions, Andrew Dodt (2010), SSP Chowrasia (2011) and the defending champion Jbe Kruger (2012) will also tee up on Thursday when the first round gets underway.

The field also includes five winners of the Asian Tour Order of Merit: Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, the Indian duo of Jyoti Randhawa and Jeev Milkha Singh, and China’s Liang Wenchong, besides England’s Simon Dyson, the winner of Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2000.

Montgomerie, the most prolific British winner in European Tour history, who makes his first appearance in the Avantha Masters, “India is unquestionably one of the world’s biggest growth areas for golf, so I’m really looking forward to teeing up in the Avantha Masters. Having recently added a project in Goa to my golf course design portfolio, I hope to play my part in the development of the game in India.

“Whenever I have visited this fascinating country in the past, I have always found the people to be both very friendly and enthusiastic about golf. Hopefully the crowds will come along to support the tournament, and show that golf in India is enjoying a real popularity boom.”

Molinari played under Montgomerie’s captaincy in Wales in 2010, winning one point out of a possible three as Europe survived a final day fight back to defeat the Americans 14½-13½.  Molinari said: “Part of the joy of playing golf for a living is travelling the world and experiencing new countries and different cultures, so I’m really looking forward to playing in the Avantha Masters for the first time next week.

“I have heard that golf is getting bigger in India all the time, so I’m excited about experiencing the atmosphere and hopefully I can give a good account of myself.”

Jeev, the most successful Indian pro with 20 international titles, including the Scottish Open in 2012, and Thongchai Jaidee, winner of the Wales Open in 2012, will be eager to lock horns with the European stalwarts on Asian soil.

Three-time Indian Open champion Jyoti Randhawa, four-time Asian Tour winner Bhullar and former Asian Tour winner, Kapur, both of whom have also won the European Challenge Tour will also form the Indian challenge.

Daniel Chopra, who has played on virtually all international Tours, will also be return to India, where he learnt a lot of his golf and tee up in the Avantha Masters for the first time. The two-time US PGA Tour champion was born in Sweden but raised in India.

“The fourth edition of the Avantha Masters promises to be the most competitive as the field will be stronger than ever before. We expect a nail-biting contest,” said Yogesh Agarwal, MD & CEO of Avantha’s flagship company BILT.

The 7,347-yard long Greg Norman-designed Jaypee Greens GC is one of India’s longest golf courses and the Avantha Masters will offer free entry to all spectators.

 

About Avantha:

The US$4 billion Avantha Group is one of India’s leading business conglomerates. Its successful entities include BILT, Crompton Greaves, Avantha Power & Infrastructure, The Global Green Company, Biltech Building Elements, JG Containers Sdn Bhd, Solaris ChemTech, Salient Business Solutions, and Avantha Technologies. With an impressive global footprint, Avantha operates in more than 20 countries, employing over 22,000 people worldwide. The Group has business interests in diverse areas including power transmission and distribution equipment and services, paper and pulp, energy and infrastructure, insurance, food processing, glassware, chemicals, farm forestry, IT and ITES. Led by Gautam Thapar, Avantha demonstrates strong leadership globally and emerges as a focused corporate, leveraging its knowledge, leadership and operations, adding lasting value for its stakeholders and investors. For more information on Avantha group, please visit www.avanthagroup.com.

 

About PGTI:

Formed in 2006, Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) is the recognised official body of professional golf in India. PGTI’s objective is to promote professional golf in the country, as well as to give players an opportunity to be involved in the decision making on all aspects of the game. Headed by Mr. Gautam Thapar (President), PGTI’s governing body comprises leading Indian golf professionals. PGTI currently has over 300 members.

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