Yuvraj Singh Sandhu, a 26-year-old from Chandigarh, will be defending a championship at his home course for the first time in his career when he starts play in the Tata Steel PGTI Players Championship on Wednesday later this week. Sandhu will attempt to win the Rs 1 crore prize money competitions at the 7,202-yard Chandigarh Golf Club course after narrowly missing out on the PGTI Order of Merit title last year with five PGTI victories.
“While it’s an honour for me to play at my home course as the defending champion, it also carries the extra pressure of playing in front of the home crowd. The feeling is overlooked by the comfort of playing in familiar conditions and that will be my target this week. This is the first time that I will be defending a PGTI title and to get the opportunity at my home course will only motivate me. The roughs this week are up and the greens are firmer and quicker. The golf course will be a bit dewy and rough in the morning while it gets windy and dry in the afternoon. Adjusting to the conditions will be the key here,” said Sandhu, who has so far won a total of eight titles in his professional career.
Golfer Om Prakash Chouhan, 36, of Ahmedabad, who last month captured his first European Challenge Tour victory there, will also be a top contender for the championship in the four-day competition beginning April 12. In Ahmedabad, Chauhan won the tournament with a score of 20-under par, which included a seven-under-par 65 in the final round.
“The conditions here are similar to my home course. Winning the European Challenge Tour title in Ahmedabad has boosted my confidence a lot and I will be looking forward to carrying the momentum here. I will be playing in a couple of European Challenge tour events this season before I decide whether to play on the same or the Asian Tour,” said Chouhan, who had pocketed a prize money of Rs 39,84,000.
It will also be the first time that the PGTI Players Championship at Chandigarh will offer a total prize money of Rs 1 crore. Earlier, the total prize money was Rs 50 lakh for the event. “Last year, we had a total prize money of close to Rs 17 crore for the PGTI season and this year we expect it to be around Rs 23 crore. Chandigarh Golf Course is in pristine condition and we are thankful to the management, including president H S Chahal and club captain K S Sibia and other staff for the efforts,” said Uttam Singh Mundy, CEO, PGTI.
The foreign challenge will be led by Sri Lankans Mithun Perera, N Thangaraja, Anura Rohana, K Prabagaran, Bangladeshis Jamal Hossain, Badal Hossain, Md Akbar Hossain, Americans Varun Chopra, Tejas Sinha, Nepal’s Sukra Bahadur Rai, Canadians Sukhraj Singh Gill, Minwoo Park, Japan’s Makoto Iwasaki and Andorra’s Kevin Esteve Rigaill.
A total of 126 — 123 professionals and three amateurs — players will be competing in the tournament. The leading professionals are last year PGTI Order of Merit winner Udayan mane, Sachin Baisoya, Gaurav Pratap Singh, apart from Sandhu and Chouhan.