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SAIL Open gets lifeline

india Updated: Mar 08, 2010 23:11 IST
Robin Bose
Robin Bose
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

The SAIL Open had been all but consigned to the pages of history, with the sponsor, Steel Authority of India (SAIL), opting to focus on hockey, a sport closer to its heart.

"Ever since the company decided to co-sponsor the FIH World Cup, it was going to be difficult," veteran pro, Amandeep Johl, had told HT in January when it ran the story of the SAIL Open being a non-starter.

Amid the pessimism, there was a ray of hope. "We at SAIL never say die till we die and are hopeful the chairman (S.K. Roongta) relents," Johl said. The attitude paid off and the "change of heart" came about late last month. "We may have fulfilled the two-year commitment, but the chairman felt since we had started an event, we should continue with it," said Johl.

The late approval meant time was at a premium. "The original dates (March 18-21) were gone and it was tough to get a fresh slot. The Asian Tour took time to locate the right dates and we've finally zeroed in on the March 30-April 2 slot," said Johl.

Booking the course was another issue. "Initially, we were keen on a mid-March slot and approached the Delhi Golf Club (DGC) but they refused as it clashed with their carnival. Jaypee Greens (in Greater Noida) too expressed their inability to host us. The DGC was keen on March-end and when the Asian Tour announced the dates, everything fell in place," said Johl.

Concerns on the weather hotting up were put to rest. "The climate is going to be ideal, neither too hot nor cold, and the course will play perfect. Besides, the charm of playing at this historic course is matchless," he said.

The prize money stays at $300,000 (Rs 1.4 crore approx) but unlike last year when several small co-sponsors were on board, SAIL will go solo in the third edition.

It is premature to talk about the field, but India can be expected to field a strong contingent. "Shiv Kapur has confirmed his participation and we hope the others will follow suit," said Johl.