The past year has been nothing short of stellar for Indian golf on the global stage. We had several Indians stamping their authority at international golfing events across the world. As we draw close to the end of another year, I would like to throw some light on the Indians who shone in 2016:
5. Mukesh Kumar
Mukesh Kumar is a veteran of Indian golf with approximately 120 professional wins on the Indian tour under his belt. At an age when most players are planning their retirement, he created history, at this year’s Panasonic Open (India) in December, by becoming the oldest winner on the Asian Tour.
It was truly a commendable feat and was heartening to see the 51-year-old’s determination and passion intact after all these years.
4. Gaganjeet Bhullar
Gaganjeet Bhullar, who won the Arjuna Award for golf in 2013, struggled with a wrist injury for 2013-2014 which saw him have two mediocre seasons according to his own high standards. This year, however, he showed why he is one of the most talented golfers of India by bouncing back to form with two wins on the Asian Tour.
He won the Shinhan Donghae Open held in South Korea in October, and followed it up with another win at the Bank BRI – JCB Indonesia Open in November.
3. Anirban Lahiri
There can rarely be a year-end golfing round up without Anirban Lahiri’s name in it. Anirban, who is currently plying his trade on the PGA Tour, also had a memorable year with some good finishes. The 2015 Asian Tour Order of Merit winner was part of team Asia for the EurAsia Cup in January 2016.
He was the only Indian who participated in all the four majors in 2016, with a creditable tied - 42nd finish at The Masters and tied for 68th position at The Open Championship. He finished runner-up to Chawrasia at the Hero Indian Open 2016 in March, and was also a part of the Indian men’s golf team at Rio in August.
Lahiri's best finish of the year was at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, this October. Although he came very close to winning his first PGA Tour event, he finished a commendable tied – 3rd.
If I had to award a “golfer of the year” title, it would go to Aditi Ashok. At 18, she has broken records, created history, and most importantly, inspired a whole new generation of golfers.
In her rookie year as a professional on the Ladies European Tour, apart from several top-10 finishes, she has notched up two wins on tour, won the Rookie of the Year trophy, as well as finished 2nd in the Order of Merit (Rankings). She has also secured a conditional card to play in LPGA events for 2017.
Aditi's performances have truly been a big shot in the arm for women’s golf in India.
1. SSP Chawrasia
In my opinion, SSP Chawrasia had the best year amongst all the Indian male golfers. He was a part of Team Asia at the EurAsia Cup in January. His win at the Hero Indian Open in March 2016, laid many personal demons to rest after having finished runner-up at this event, a record four times.
He was a part of the Indian men’s Golf team at the Rio 2016 Olympics in August, where golf made a return after almost a hundred years. His second win of the year came at the Resorts World Manila Masters in November. He subsequently represented India at the ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf in the same month.
Indian golf has continued to make its mark this year through young blood like Aditi Ashok, as well as experienced campaigners like Mukesh Kumar.
These names may not be known to most of the people in our country but slowly and surely, they are etching their names in golfing history and bringing the sport in to the mainstream in India.
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Personally, 2016 was a fulfilling year for me. I shot some of my best tournament scores on a more consistent basis. These scores only come about when I play golf for the love of the game, and not for ranking, money or fame. This year brings my amateur career to an end. I look forward to the challenges that professional golf will bring in 2017, and hope to scale new heights.
Here’s wishing all the readers and fans on Sportskeeda, a very happy and successful 2017.