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First Look: PGTI's season ending McLeod Russel Tour Championship

Sameer Bahl
FEATURED WRITER
21 Dec 2016, 10:45 IST

Event

The McLeod Russel Tour championship marks the end of the 2016 PGTI season. The event will be hosted by Royal Calcutta Golf club from Dec 22nd - 25th in Kolkata. The prestigious event which carries a significant prize purse of Rs. 1.5 crore marks a collaboration between McLeod Russel, the world’s largest tea producer & tea plantation company, and the Professional Golf Tour of India for the 5th time, with the inaugral edition having taken place in 2012.

The tournament will be a 72 – hole, 4 day affair with the entire field eligible to play Thursday through Sunday meaning that there will be no cut. The field will feature 64 players including the top – 50 on the Rolex rankings. Defending champion Chikkarangapa, 3 time winner this season – Shubhankar Sharma, winner of the Panasonic Open – Mukesh Kumar, Rashid Khan, Khalin Joshi and Shankar Das will all feature at the event.

They will line up against big names that the Tour championship attracts every year, in 2016 the likes of Jeev Milkha Singh, Jyoti Randhawa, S.S.P Chawrasia, Shiv Kapur, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Rahil Gangjee and Arjun Atwal will all be vying for the top honours at the event.

Shiv Kapur and Jeev Milkha Singh will both be making their debuts at the event and which goes to speak volumes about the growth in stature of the PGTI. Jeev Milkha Singh is returning to play in Kolkata after a gap of 19 years while Shiv Kapur will start in his first event in Kolkata in 12 years.

Also in the field will be Internationals: Shintaro Kobayashi and Narutoshi Yamaoka of Japan, Suradit Yongcharoenchai and Pariya Juhnasavasdikul from Thailand, Singapore’s Choo Tze Hunga and Choo Tze Ming and Kemarol Baharin hailing from Malaysia. Indian, Arjun Atwal, who has won on the PGA Tour and is the first Indian to have full playing rights on the PGA Tour will cap off a stellar field this week.

The event receives a strong backing from McLeod Russel who are committed to the development of Golf in India. It has been a hugely successful event so far which has managed to bring together Indians who have done well at the International level  and the rising home stars of the PGTI. It presents a great opportunity for the home talents to grow and test themselves against the accomplished Indian golfers.

The race for the Rolex rankings is still wide open and there are a variety of permutations as to who can end up on top. The players will be looking to end their 2016 seasons on a high and that makes for an interesting season finale. The event has been hugely supported by Royal Calcutta Golf club over the years and the course management will once again have the course playing in immaculate condition.

Also Read: Daily Wrap – Up: Final round at the 15th TATA Open

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Aditya Khaitan, Managing Director, McLeod Russel, said, “We are very happy to be hosting the 5th edition of the McLeod Russel Tour Championship. The response from the Top Golfers and also everyone who came out and supported this event has been excellent. This year we have a top 50 field from the PGTI order of merit, and we have international flavor as well.” 

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“This will be a great opportunity for people to come and watch and learn from the Top Professionals in India and Asia. This is our small way of giving golf a boost in this region and we hope that it will eventually lead to the growth of the game. We take this opportunity to thank the PGTI and the Royal Calcutta Golf Club for the opportunity to host the Championship this year. We are committed to the McLeod Russel Tour Championship and in the development of golf.”

Announcing the event, Mr. Uttam Singh Mundy, Director, PGTI, said, “The McLeod Russel Tour Championship 2016 will make for an enthralling week of golf as the race for the Rolex Player of the Year title is too close to call with many contenders in the fray. The added presence of some of the biggest international stars of Indian golf as well as some renowned foreign players will spice up the contest even more.”

“The hallowed turf of the prestigious Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) provides the ideal setting for this grand occasion. We thank McLeod Russel for their enduring support to Indian professional golf and look forward to continuing our partnership with them in the years to come.”

Mr. Gaurav Ghosh, General Committee Member, Royal Calcutta Golf Club, said, “It’s a pleasure for the RCGC to host the McLeod Russel Tour Championship yet again. It gives an opportunity to all top professionals to play at the iconic golf course at its best.”

Course

Royal Calcutta Golf Club affectionately known as the "Royal" is synonymous with the game of golf in this country. Founded in 1829, Royal is the oldest golf club outside the British Isles. The oldest being the Royal and Ancient, St. Andrews in Scotland, the home of golf. The golfing heritage and history of Royal makes this a truly hallowed place for the game of golf. 

Originally located near the Calcutta airport, the club moved to the Maidan and finally to its present location at Tollygunge in 1910. Meant exclusively for the use of gentlemen, ladies were very reluctantly admitted to the club in 1886, when the committee voted 43 against 13 on the condition that female members be allowed to use the course only in the mornings. 

The area over which the Royal Calcutta course is laid, was originally paddy fields, and the course is consequently very undulating. Successive committees built mounds and planted thousands of trees and shrubs to enhance the beauty of the property.

However, Royal's conspicuous features are its strategically located water tanks and natural water hazards. Greens at Royal are quite large by modern standards and their undulations make them tricky. The par fours and long and challenging to score on where approach shots require long and medium irons to be hit which test the skills of all the golfers.

Also Read: Jeev Milkha Singh and Shiv Kapur excited to make debut at the McLeod Russel Tour Championship

No records are available until 1874. However, thereafter all records have been preserved especially Cups, Medals and Trophies that were presented to and exchanged between the Royal and Golf Club of Madras, Bangalore as well as other clubs abroad. One of the notable ones being the Silver Cashmere Cup presented to the Royal and Ancient, St. Andrews in 1885. 

In one of the minutes dated 8th February, 1876, it is recorded that the winner of the Royal Blackheath Medal was awarded a cup valued Rs. 25/- and a golf set priced at Rs. 9/-. The expenses for running the club were Rs. 720/- as salaries for staff for twelve months, Rs. 100/- for sundry expenses and the estimated stock of liquor at the closing of accounts was Rs. 200/- which must have represented quite an extensive stock of liquor in the cellar. 

The Maidan Pavilion was opened sometime in January, 1885 and a fine bowling green was laid down in 1887. The first Amateur Golf Championship of India was held at the Royal during Christmas time in the year, 1892 with players from Ceylon, Burma, Penang and Singapore taking part. While the registered office of the Club continues to be at the Maidan, the work on the course at the present location, started in 1908 and all 18 holes were opened for play in 1912. Membership of the Club stood at 420 in 1892, 1770 in 1931 and stands at over 2900 today.

A milestone in the Club's history was the election of the first Indian Captain Kamal Kumar Mitra Esq. in the year 1963. Royal, being the first golf club in India, is where the game of golf was introduced and started in the country. Royal has encouraged the local lads working as caddies to become some of the best professionals in the country. Apart from this Royal has produced some of the finest amateurs and professional golfers in India. 

Royal is essentially a golf club and has maintained that character over the years. A substantial effort has been put in over the last decade to enhance the course both on the design and beautification fronts and now Royal is considered to be one of the finest golf courses not only in India but also in Asia. The par 72 course is long and challenging for both the amateurs and professionals alike.

The Royal has been a very popular venue for many prestigious amateur and professional events including our very own Indian Open. Many a renowned International golfers have walked the fairways of Royal – the most significant ones being – Walter Hagen, Pamela Barton, Peter Thompson, Payne Stewart, Charles Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen amongst others.

Also Read: What’s in the Bag: Shubhanakar Sharma at the TATA Open

Our own greats – I.S. Malik, H.S. Malik, Billoo Sethi, Ashok Malik, ‘Bunny’ Lakshman Singh, Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal, Jyoti Randhawa, SSP Chawrasia and Anirban Lahiri have all been a part of the Royal golfing heritage and history!

Sponsors 

About McLeod Russel

Mcleod Russel is the world's largest producer of Tea. They manufacture approximately 100 million kilograms of high quality tea a year from their tea estates in Assam and West Bengal, India, Vietnam, Uganda and Rwanda. Their tea business is responsible for employing over 90,000 people.

As the largest Indian tea exporter, it maintains strong connections with buyers in Europe, the Middle East and North America. They have always enjoyed an excellent reputation for the quality of their product and the integrity and reliability of it’s marketing and delivery systems.

McLeod Russel has a number of internationally recognised accreditations and certifications including Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and HACCP. Their modern blending facility provides their clients with both unique as well as bespoke bulk blended teas.

It is a Public Limited Company listed on several stock exchanges in India. McLeod Russel is the largest tea plantation company in the world. It prides itself on running a successful business that directly employs over 90,000 people and has an excellent reputation around the world.

McLeod Russel has been committed to the growth and development of Golf in India with it’s MD, Aditya Khaitan, an avid Golfer himself. They have supportedd the PGTI with the Tour championsip since 2012 and the prize money has grown from 1.25 crores to 1.5 crores which is where it stands at present. The company identifies and supports amateur golfers in the country as well as professionals.

About PGTI 

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

Past Champions

2012 – SSP Chawrasia

2013 – Anirban Lahiri

2014 – Shankar Das

2015 – Chikkarangappa

Jyoti Randhawa, SSP Chawrasia and Jeev Milkha Singh will all be part of the gala affair at the Tour Championship this week
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