After the hugely successful four-week Desert Swing, The European Tour returns to India this week for the second edition of the Avantha Masters, a tournament that will cement golf’s reputation as the fastest-growing sport in the country.
The beautiful DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurgaon will once again play host to a tournament which boasts an increased prize fund of €1.8 million, a significant 20 per cent rise on last year’s total and part of a five-year strategy to progressively grow the tournament with the ultimate goal of making it one of the strongest events on The European Tour International Schedule.
India’s Jeev Milkha Singh will be the main attraction in his homeland, with the three-time European Tour winner hoping to dethrone defending champion Andrew Dodt of Australia and pick up a European Tour title in his own country.
“It is great that we have a European Tour event in India, and it would be a huge honour to win in front of my own people,” said Singh.
Singh will be joined by his fellow Indians SSP Chowrasia, Shiv Kapur and Jyoti Randhawa, who is attached to the DLF Golf and Country Club; while international names such as Ryder Cup players Paul Broadhurst and David Howell of England, Søren Hansen of Denmark and Irishman Paul McGinley, as well as Thai ace Thongchai Jaidee, will all ensure a global focus for the event.
While those established names will be among the favourites to take the title, the man to look out for may well be another Indian, Gaganjeet Bhullar, who has won his last three tournaments, including the European Challenge Tour’s Gujarat Kensville Challenge last month.
“I am currently on a winning streak so there is a lot of positive energy around me, and that helps me come through even in tough situations,” said Bhullar.
“This is the second hat-trick of titles in my career, and it has given me some much-needed momentum ahead of a long and gruelling season.”
Dodt, meanwhile, cannot wait to return to the DLF Golf and Country Club as he bids to spark memories of his career-changing victory last year.
The Australian emerged the victor with a brilliant birdie on the 72nd hole to take the title by a single stroke.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back and defending my title,” said Dodt.
“That is something that I have never done before so it is quite exciting, and I am hoping that the memories from last year can spur me on because things haven’t gone too well since then.
“It was such a big moment for me in my career to win in India last year, and even though I haven’t really kicked on it gave me some great opportunities, so hopefully I can contend again and have another chance to win.”