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Govt bogey on Pak swing

other Updated: Dec 03, 2008 23:44 IST
Robin Bose
Robin Bose
Hindustan Times
Mumbai’s United Services

From November 26-29, Mumbai’s United Services (US) Club was scheduled to stage a Professional Golfers Tour of India (PGTI) event, the Crompton Greaves Open. One of the tour’s biggest prize money events, it was cancelled reportedly because Pakistani and Bangladeshi golfers were scheduled to take part.

This incidentally, had nothing to do with the Mumbai attacks, the event was cancelled well before that. But the Hindustan Times learnt of the real reasons for the cancellation only recently, even as the PGTI blandly stated it was the “US Club’s inability to host the tournament despite confirmation”.

A club official, on condition of anonymity, told HT, “The CG Open was scheduled at the Bombay Presidency Golf Club but that being under renovation, it came to us. From the outset it was a ‘yes-no’ from our side as the club’s constitution made it mandatory to get clearance for the 28-29 foreign players in the field from the Western Naval Command in Delhi.” (The club is in the cantonment area in Colaba).

The area of concern was the presence of “five-six” Pakistani and Bangladeshi players.

After club officials expressed doubts over procuring clearances for them, the PGTI initially spoke of barring the players, otherwise tour regulars, but later climbed down on this. After corresponding for a month and a half, naval authorities informed the club in early September that permission had been held back, though the go-ahead was acquired for players from the US, UK, China, Japan and Saudi Arabia.

The club told the PGTI as much in mid-September. “The PGTI’s response was very upsetting,” said the official, adding, “Not only was the club blamed squarely in the press note (issued on October 7), word went around that the event was cancelled as the course was not in proper condition. This is untrue.”

Padamjit Sandhu, PGTI’s business head and director, sales and marketing, denied this version though. “We had booked the US Club but it got back to us saying the event was being cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. Though reasons were not specified, non-clearance of Pakistani players was definitely not a cause,” he said. Club officials though, maintain that there is no ambiguity about the reasons for cancellation. And golfing circles are abuzz.