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Teeing-off for a new innings

Ajay Jadeja will become the first India cricketer to turn professional golfer, reports Atreyo Mukhopadhyay.

other Updated: Feb 02, 2009 23:36 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

The Professional Golf Tour of India's (PGTI) second event of the season — Players Championship — tees-off at Tollygunge Club on Tuesday with a former cricketer hogging the limelight, at least early in the competition. Despite six of the top-10 finishers last season including leader Mukesh Kumar being present, all eyes will be on Ajay Jadeja.

The former India star is making his debut as professional golfer after having secured a partial card for this year's Tour at the qualifying school competition is New Delhi last month. This doesn't make Jadeja eligible for entire Tour but he can play in some tournaments depending on the presence of other players.

"I used to play golf once in a while during my cricket days. I started taking it seriously after a knee injury in 1997-98. Having made it to the pro Tour now, I want to play as many tournaments as I can, depending on my other commitments and also the number of opportunities I get," Jadeja told HT on Monday.

Jadeja said he couldn't work very hard on his golf before the Q-School. "I had just returned from holiday, so couldn't really prepare much. I am not setting any benchmark for myself. I just want to play well, get better and get used to tournament play. Hopefully, I will get more opportunities to play."

After the inaugural event of the year, which ended in Dhaka on Saturday, the Indian top guns would like to come up with a better showing because the title on the other side of the border was won by a local amateur. So the likes of Mukesh, Shamim Khan, Rahul Ganapathy, Ashok Kumar or Harendra Gupta should not be short on motivation.

Some prominent players like Digvijay Singh, Rahil Gangjee, Anirban Lahiri and C. Muniyappa will be missing because they will take part in an Asian Tour event later in the week. The late entry of S.S. P. Chowrasia and the presence of Feroz Ali however will ensure some strong local challenge. The total prize purse is Rs 30 lakh.