Nearly seven months after the SAIL Open here, the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) is still awaiting clearance from the union sports ministry to make a payment of $150,000, half of the total prize pool.
The $300,000 tournament, which was played at the Delhi Golf Club and was won by Sweden's Richard Karlberg, is part of the Asian Tour calendar.
The Reserve Bank of India has asked the PGTI to get this clearance because all payments in excess of $100,000 must have the ministry's approval. But between the priority of hosting the Commonwealth Games and readying for next month's Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, the file continues to gather dust.
"It (SAIL Open) is a non-priority file for the ministry," a PGTI official, pleading anonymity, told Hindustan Times. If that is the case, it is ironical as golf is now an Olympic sport and will be part of the 2016 Games at Rio de Janeiro. The previous two editions of the SAIL Open were handled by a private promoter and the hassles being faced by the PGTI had not arisen as the promoter had "done things differently".
As the governing body for professional golf in the country, the PGTI, which has been in existence for four years, has refused to traverse that path. "As the national body, we have to go by the rule book, there are no short-cuts," the official said.
The money was supposed to be paid to Asian Tour players who took part in the SAIL Open. After waiting for three months, the Asian Tour paid the players from its coffers in July. Making the whole thing even more embarrassing is the fact that Steel Authority of India, the sponsor, has released R 2.5 crore for this and that the Indian players had already been paid.
Injeti Srinivas, joint secretary in the ministry, did not return phone calls or respond to text messages seeking a reaction.
Another senior official, who refused to go on record for fear of victimisation, told HT: "Rules say that a prior notice of two months is mandatory for holding a tournament, something the PGTI did not follow. Even then, the ministry should facilitate sports, but this is the way we function. You come to us and we'll ask for clarification and proof for even the minutest things.”
With the Asian Games less than three weeks away and keeping the ministry officials busy, the clearance, it seems, won't come soon. With the PGTI's growing exasperation, chances of another successful SAIL Open keeps receding.