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India set to host another high profile Asian Tour event

other Updated: May 28, 2009 00:40 IST
Robin Bose

For enthusiasts lamenting the Indian Masters falling prey to these uncertain times, comes some heart-warming news. If things go to plan, India could be hosting its second Asian Tour event close on the heels of the Hero Honda Indian Open, scheduled at the Delhi Golf Club (DGC) from October 8-11.

Co-sanctioned by the European Tour, Asian Tour and the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI), the second edition of the $2.5 million Indian Masters, listed for February at the DGC, was postponed to 2010 after the promoters, Golf in Dubai, cried off due to the "current economic uncertainty coupled with security concerns". The disappointment was unmistakable but this significant development would go a long way in quelling the anguish.

A source in the PGTI told Hindustan Times on Wednesday that while the sponsor, "a big multi-national company", "was committed to 2010" the groundwork for this year was almost done. "The sponsor has given a verbal nod for 2009 and we've kept aside dates in November-December, but some ground needs to be covered as the company is a stickler for detail.

"The PGTI held two detailed meetings with the sponsor over the past few days regarding this year's tourney and a final call will be taken when the company's board meets in one-two months," he said.

To ensure that no stone is left unturned in ensuring the event's success, a PGTI team has been looking at "properties" to zero in on the "ideal location", while another unit is focussing on the commercial viability.

If the sponsor is eager to make its presence felt in India, equally keen is the Asian Tour. Having lost a couple of key events to the OneAsia Tour, the Asian Tour has embarked on an urgent mission to spread its wings. Proof of that was the presence of Htwe Hla Han, director, event development, at Bangalore's Karnataka Golf Association (KGA) on Wednesday, one of the venues being explored.

"We are looking at Delhi and Bangalore as possible hosts. Our team arrived here after visiting the DGC and DLF Golf & Country Club in Gurgaon earlier this week. The KGA inspection happened today and Eagleton -- The Golf Village will be the next stopover tomorrow. We are giving ourselves options as the weather will be a major factor," the source said.

Ramesh Rao, tournament committee chairman, KGA, appeared satisfied after the scrutiny. "The team was happy with the condition of the course and has promised to return," he said.

While the source was reluctant to divulge the possible prize money, HT has learnt that it could be in the range of an impressive "$750,000-1million".