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Slip-up grounds foreign flight of India’s No 1 golfer

other Updated: Feb 18, 2013 02:07 IST
Kaushik Chatterji
Kaushik Chatterji
Hindustan Times
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For Shamim Khan, popping the bubbly in Greater Noida on Sunday could have been a precursor to boarding a Myanmar-bound flight. However, a silly goof-up has cost the Delhi-based professional the chance to take part in a number of tournaments on the Asian Tour. And, India’s domestic golf tour has to shoulder at least part of the blame.

The Asian Tour offers "country spots" to the domestic golf tours affiliated to it, one of which is the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI). Players who finish strongly on the PGTI merit list— or ace it, like Shamim did last year — are eligible for these spots. But the prerogative to apply before the deadline rests with the player — the domestic tour body only forwards the names to the Asian Tour.

Last year, the deadline was December 2, a day after the conclusion of PGTI’s 2012 schedule. Having sealed the Order of Merit only on December 1 after a month of hectic touring across the country, Shamim contacted the PGTI to apply for the country spot, only to be told it was too late. “It is partly their mistake, but mostly mine,” Shamim told HT. “I should’ve been aware of the deadline.”

He could, of course, have applied in advance, like Harendra Gupta did. “I filled the form after the BILT Open in October,” said Gupta. Others feel that the onus is on the player himself. “The player needs to take the initiative, especially if he realistically expects himself to finish strongly in the final merit list (being in the top 10 is usually enough),” said Shankar Das, who applied for the country slot in time before gaining a higher category exemption by finishing in Asia’s top 100.

On his part, Shamim does not hold any grudges — if anything, he blames himself. “God willing, maybe next year,” he said, adding how difficult it is for a vegetarian like him to tour abroad. But he does hope to table the issue at a subsequent meeting. “If the deadline is a day after the Order of Merit is finalised, the PGTI should remind the players, especially if they are touring,” said Shamim. “I’m literate but not tech-savvy. But there are some who can’t read or write, and the tour should think of them.”