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Golfer Jeev Milkha Singh set to renew love affair with Mumbai

Jeev Milkha Singh set to play in Mumbai, at the course where he won his first professional title, after a gap of 18 years

Several top golfers of the country, including Asia Tour Order of Merit no. 3 and 5 Anirban Lahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar, would represent different city-based franchise teams in the Rs 1.2 crore prize money Louis Philippe Cup team event at the BPGC course here from February 19-22.

Apart from Lahiri and Bhullar, who will turn out for Puravankara Bangalore and Jaypee Greens Greater Noida respectively, other top professionals like Jeev Milkha Singh (Shubhkamna Delhi), SSP Chowrasia (Take Chennai) and Jyoti Randhawa (Dev Ellora Laqshya Mumbai) will be seen in action, said event organiser Rishi Narain at a media conference today.

Golfer Jeev Milkha Singh
Jeev Milkha Singh. Pic/AFP

Incidentally, Jeev’s first professional title — Mahindra Open — was won at the Bombay Presidency Golf Club (BPGC) in 1995. But with the golfer, who became the first Indian to play on the European Tour, will renew a love affair that has seen a pause of 18 years.

There will be nine teams, including AVT Kolkata, vying for the top honours in the tournament, which is sanctioned by the Professional Golf Tour of India and conceived and promoted by Narain's RN Golf Management with the winning trio of pro golfers taking home Rs 12 lakh each.

According to Narain, this is the second best prize money tournament in the PGTI calendar.

Lahiri, the topmost ranked golfer in the world from India who is also in the Asian team to take on Europe in March along with Bhullar and Bangladesh's Asia no. 4 Siddikur (DLF Gurgaon), said he was looking forward to play in the event.

"In other tournaments only one golfer can win big prize money but this event offers the chance for a team of three to have equal share. I am happy to represent the franchise from Bangalore where I am based," said Lahiri.

Narain said there were three golfers from Sri Lanka too in the fray with two of those - K Prabagaran and N Thangaraja - representing Krrish Colombo and the third - Mithun Perera - turning out for Navratna Ahmedabad by popular choice of the franchise.

"I would have liked to play for my country's team, but I am happy to play for the Ahmedabad city team," said Perera.

Each team consists of three players. On the first two days the best two players' scores of each team would be considered for rankings before the top four teams advance to the semi-finals to be held on the third day, said Narain.

"We may consider introducing IPL-like auctions next year," he said when a question was put to him.

The runners-up team will take home Rs 24 lakh split into Rs 8 lakh for each of the three players, while the team finishing in third and fourth places will receive Rs 18 and Rs 12 lakh respectively.

Prize money is on offer for the other teams too with the next four vying to fight for positions on the last two days while the ninth ranked team would not play over the final two days, according to Narain.

From the semi-finals onwards, the top four teams would play in a knock out format with each player lined up against a rival player in strokeplay competition, with the player with the better score after 18 holes declared the winner.

The two winning semi-finalists would go head-to-head in the final on day four which would also see the losers clashing for the third place.

Asked whether the players would get any extra money apart from the prize fund, Narain said some of these players have long time agreement with the teams they represent.

"Others would fight only for the prize money," he said.

"Barring Shiv Kapur, who has taken a break from golf, all the other top players of the country, including winners of 39 international titles, are taking part. Three of the top five in the Asian Tour Order of Merit are among these," said Narain.

"We want to take this event to different cities and that's the reason we have come to Mumbai and the BPGC's revamped course (at a cost of around Rs 20 crore) is very impressive," he added.

The teams taking part are: Navratna Ahmedabad, Puravankara Bangalore, Take Chennai, DLF Gurgaon, Jaypee Greens Greater Noida, AVT Kolkata, Dev-Ellora Laqshya Mumbai, Krrish Colombo and Shubhkamna Delhi.

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