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Time for juniors to cash in on home advantage

other Updated: May 13, 2010 01:56 IST
Robin Bose
Robin Bose
Hindustan Times
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Early on Wednesday at the Eagleton Golf Resort, if anything could match the flow of contestants, it was the buzz of the honeybees. The monotonous drone may have irritated the few onlookers, but for the budding stars it was of little consequence.

Eager to make the most of the final practice round ahead of the HP Asia-Pacific Junior Golf Championship, the day dawned early for the young ones as they got down to getting a feel of this championship course, set amid rustic environs on Bangalore-Mysore Highway.

But for the odd patch on some fairways, the course wore a well-kept look and the day’s outcome had the teams from Chinese Taipei, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Bangladesh chirping in unison that the week promised some keen
competition.

Into its 31st year, this prestigious event returns to the country after a decade. India hosted it in Delhi (1991) and Kolkata (2000), and whatever the formbook might have on its pages, home advantage could be a factor working for the hosts. A case in point is the last edition, in which hosts Thailand made a clean sweep in the boys and girls’ categories.

Doi Nalae, an official with the Thai contingent, was quick off the blocks with an affirmative “no”, when asked if the tag of defending champions would sit heavy on his team, but the mention of India’s home advantage had him scratching the sparse growth on the chin.

That Chikkarangappa plies his trade here and Kapurthala’s Ashbeer Saini is familiar with the layout like the back of his hand isn’t the only aspect in play. The duo has been in sublime form. Chikka won the All-India Amateur in February, and at 16, became the tournament’s youngest winner in its long and illustrious history. Ashbeer, also 16, became one of the youngest Indian amateurs to win a pro tourney when he won the Surya Nepal Masters in Kathmandu last month.

The pair was alive to the expectations. “Both of us need to perform on all four days so that there is no pressure on Honey (Baisoya) and Manu (Gandas), the other two making up the boys’ team, as they are playing for the first time,” said Chikka.

Individual competition will be held in four categories, ranging from A (15-17 years) to D (under-10). The three-best cards for boys and two-best among girls (Gurbani Singh, Vani Kapoor and Shreya Ghei are turning out for India) will add to the team total, and the lowest score after 72 holes, for boys, and 54 for girls, will decide the winner.