Ankur Chadha will spearhead Indian hopes when the 2nd Hex City Albatross International Junior Golf Championship tees off at the Classic Golf Resort in Gurgaon on Wednesday.
Over 140 budding golfers, split into age-groups ranging from 15-17 to 6-7 years, will vie for top honours in five categories over three days. However, all eyes will be on Chadha, who finished atop Category A (15-17 years) last year as well Delhi Ladies Open winner Gauri Monga.The field has an international flavour, given the presence of 15 youngsters from USA, Canada, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Thailand.
The tournament will be played over 54 holes (18 x 3 rounds) of gross stroke play for boys and girls in Groups A to D, and no cut will be applied. Group E participants will play 27 holes (9 x 3 rounds).
"The performance of India's rising stars at the international level is a good sign. "During my junior days I never had the benefit of competing with international players," said seasoned pro Jyoti Randhawa at the media interaction on Monday.
Asked what he felt about the importance of such tournaments, the multiple Indian Open winner, said, "It's great that the country is endorsing platforms, whereby golf for the next generation is competitive and worthwhile. Ultimately, it's the younger lot which will go on to win us acclaim and medals, so let's hope this movement grows further."
Randhawa made a special mention of Asian Games silver medalist, Rashid Khan, who will turn pro at the Indian Open this week. "Rashid's a talented golfer and his recent success at the Asiad will give him more confidence. With him turning pro, the more the merrier."
Randhawa, 38, also had a word of caution on Jeev Milkha Singh opting out of the Indian Open with injury. "Jeev has been having trouble keeping fit of late and I think it's because he's been playing a little too much golf. With age catching up with all of us, it's time he became more selective."