Emergence of five first time winners on PGTI in 2019 & 2020 heightens expectations for future of Indian golf
The emergence of five first time winners on the TATA Steel PGTI (excluding co-sanctioned international events) in 2019 and 2020 has heightened expectations for the future of Indian golf.
Among the five golfers, all Indians, youth is the common factor. While Kshitij Naveed Kaul and Aadil Bedi joined the winner’s circle as teenagers, both Veer Ahlawat and Priyanshu Singh lifted their maiden trophies at the age of 23. Abhinav Lohan broke the victory barrier at age 30 which can also be considered young in golfing terms.
Here is a recap of the maiden wins of these five players.
Pune Open 2019
Teenaged rookie Kshitij Naveed Kaul of Delhi, playing only his ninth event as a professional, displayed maturity beyond his years to triumph at the Pune Open Golf Championship 2019.
The 18-year-old Kaul shot scores of 69, 67, 66 and 67 to register a one-shot victory with a total of 15-under-269 at the Poona Club Golf Course.
Kshitij thus became the youngest rookie to bag a title on the TATA Steel PGTI. He also emerged as the third-youngest winner on the tour after Karandeep Kochhar and Shubhankar Sharma. Karandeep and Shubhankar had both won on the PGTI as 17-year-olds.
Kaul said, “A win so early in my career is a huge morale-booster. On day one, I incurred a two-shot penalty after unintentionally hitting some other player’s ball. But I didn’t let that error affect my thought process. I think it was this positive approach that finally helped me win.”
Jaipur Open 2019
In what turned out to be a shootout between two promising rookies and emerging names of Indian golf, Gurugram-based Priyanshu Singh defeated Delhi’s Kshitij Naveed Kaul in a playoff at the Jaipur Open 2019 to register his maiden win.
Twenty-three-year-old Priyanshu (65-68-63-65), the 2019 PGTI Qualifying School champion, and 18-year-old Kshitij, a winner on the PGTI this season, went into the playoff after both ended the regulation 72 holes with matching totals of 19-under-261 at the magnificent Rambagh Golf Club.
Priyanshu finally came up with a tremendous bunker shot during the playoff to set up a tap-in for victory.
Priyanshu said, “It’s special to win my first title in my rookie season. I’ve had a pretty consistent season. The experience of playing in difficult conditions on the PGA Tour Series in China earlier this year helped me a lot as it magnified the things that I needed to focus on.”
IndianOil Servo Masters Golf 2019
Gurugram’s Veer Ahlawat lived up to his first name ‘Veer’ which means ‘Brave’ in Hindi, as he put up a brave display in the final round of the IndianOil Servo Masters Golf 2019 to earn his maiden title.
The 23-year-old Ahlawat (69-64-68-72), the overnight leader by three shots, struck an eventful even-par-72 on the last day to come through in a humdinger of a contest by one shot at 15-under-273 after seeing off a tough challenge from veteran Mukesh Kumar of Mhow at the Rs. 60 lakh event played at the Digboi Golf Links.
Veer said, “It’s a big relief to finally get a title under my belt as I had come close to winning on a few occasions in the past. My driving distance was a big positive during the tournament as I averaged about 310 yards with my drives.”
Indo-MIM presents Bengaluru Open 2019 powered by Karnataka Tourism
Faridabad-based Abhinav Lohan recorded his breakthrough win on the TATA Steel PGTI as he triumphed with a narrow one-shot margin at 13-under-275 at the Indo-MIM presents Bengaluru Open Golf Championship 2019 powered by Karnataka Tourism, a Rs. 40 lakh event, played at the Karnataka Golf Association (KGA) course.
The 30-year-old Lohan (70-67-70-68) shot a top-class final round of four-under-68 to continue his dream season. It was Abhinav’s first title on the TATA Steel PGTI and second win of the year as he had also emerged victorious at the PGTI Feeder Tour event in Lucknow in October 2019 to bag his first ever professional trophy.
Abhinav said, “I’m just relieved to win on the main tour for the first time. I had a poor 2018 as I missed 10 cuts in a row and lost my PGTI card. So, this victory becomes all the more sweeter.”
Bengal Open 2020
Nineteen-year-old Aadil Bedi put up a lion-hearted performance to earn his maiden title in a thriller at the Bengal Open Golf Championship 2020, played at the Tollygunge Club in Kolkata.
Chandigarh-based Bedi triumphed in style with a chip-in birdie on the sixth playoff hole to end Pune golfer Udayan Mane’s incredible three-match winning streak on the TATA Steel PGTI.
Aadil Bedi (65-65-67-69) and Udayan Mane (67-63-67-69), both joint leaders going into the final round, shot scores of 69 in round four to be tied at the top after the regulation 72 holes with matching totals of 14-under-266. Thereafter, the tournament witnessed the longest-running playoff on the PGTI.
Aadil said, “I was a little nervous at the start of the playoff but then got into a good zone mentally. I feel my killer instinct came in when I tried to play some tough shots which I would not play otherwise. The fact that I had won twice at Tolly as a junior was another factor that weighed in my favour.”
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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