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Challenge Tour blog: Indian summer Part 4

Luncheon is served at the Gujarat Kensville Challenge!  ()
Luncheon is served at the Gujarat Kensville Challenge! ()

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Photos
  • Andrew McArthur sporting a pair of running trainers in the opening day of the Gujarat Kensville Challenge
  • Brooks Koepka takes the Challenge Series on a tour around an Indian fabric market during the Gujarat Kensville Challenge
  • Rhys Enoch of Wales has a try of the latest cricket "Big Challenge"

Tired of the cold European winter weather? Why not bask in the warm glow of our first Challenge Tour blog of the year from sunny India, where our Press Officer brings you all the action from behind the scenes at the season-opening Gujarat Kensville Challenge.

Kensville currying favour with superb food

It is one of the most popular food options for many Europeans looking for a night out on the town or a night in front of the television, but you have truly never experienced Indian food until you have visited these shores and, particularly, Kensville Golf and Country Club.

The lunches and dinner served here are truly on a different scale. It doesn’t matter that you have never seen the names of these dishes in any local curry house or that you have not got a notion what’s in it, there’s only one thing you can do - spoon it out, dig in and enjoy the fresh vegetables, smooth textures and spicy pleasures that come your way.

And for those with slightly less adventurous tastes - and we won’t mention any names (Tyrrell Hatton) - there is always fluffy rice, the finest naan bread that will ever tickle your taste buds and of course, the obligatory chocolate ice-cream to finish it off.

For those uncultured souls who ventured towards the nightly pasta corner, shame on you!

Beaming Major Champion Rich on gags

While the Challenge Tour has become used to producing Major Champions such as Michael Campbell, Martin Kaymer and Louis Oosthuizen, it has been a rare novelty to have a past winner of one of the ‘big four’ in the field this week with 2002 US PGA Championship Rich Beem present.

The American, who held off a brave challenge from Tiger Woods at Hazeltine for his only Major victory, has been a huge hit with the locals at the Gujarat Kensville Challenge.

The 42 year old took his gregarious humour everywhere he went, including during the putting challenge with Indian cricket legend Sahin Tendulkar, where he almost stole the show… Almost!

On his Challenge Tour debut, he has certainly made quite an impression.

Parker craving a ‘pizza’ the Ahmedabad action

The Challenge Tour is not only a place where many of the world’s most talented young golfers come to improve their game and build towards a career on the big stage – it is also a place to broaden one’s horizons, see new places and experience different cultures.

Take Englishman Ben Parker, for example. The German-based Englishman, whose sister Florentyna is a winner on the Ladies European Tour, arrived at the Gujarat Kensville Challenge with victory his first priority but aside from the golf, this culture-vulture craved to see what India had to offer.

With a day to spare in Ahmedabad after the tournament, Parker was keen to venture into the city on Monday, but said there was only one local attraction which he had been told about…

“The world’s first vegetarian Pizza Hut”

Come on Ben, get your Lonely Planet out! Ahmedabad has plenty of offer in the way of food stalls, fabric markets and temples. In fairness to the affable 25 year old, he was asking around for any better recommendations, so we’re happy to offer up this one: the stunning Shri Swaminarayan Temple, which is the first temple of a Hindu sect in India.

Much better than the Temple of Margherita!

Koepka shows silky presenting skills in India

Brooks Koepka’s ability on the golf course is clear for all to see but the young American was showing off some other silky skills at an Indian fabric market this week at the Gujarat Kensville Challenge for the first edition of the Challenge Series on Sky Sports, which brings all the highlights from the Challenge Tour as well as some fun features.

The 22 year old presented his own little guide to the Indian market, including a trip to some clothes stores, Indian-style, a sip of the local coconut juice and a bumpy trip on a local tuk-tuk.

Indeed, TV presenting, or anchoring as he might call it, has been a part of the very fibre of Koepka’s existence as his mother was a professional in the business.

While we’re sure we could never per-suede him to change careers, it certainly looks like the family business has really cott-on (Ok, that one was tenuous!).

McArthur’s trainers put him on the right track

Andrew McArthur might well have looked like a golfer with the refined swing and deadly putting stroke which earned him the clubhouse lead on the opening day of the Gujarat Kensville Challenge but he looked more like a marathon runner when you took one look at his feet.

The Scotsman was sporting a pair of Asics trainers for the whole round after injuring his foot in a rather un-sportsman-like incident getting off a bus.

He takes on the story: “I was travelling in flip-flops and getting off the bus I got off a bus and caught my heel on the step and it took a chunk of skin so I tried those heel supports but I couldn’t even get my golf shoes on. Because the golf shoes are so rigid it was very painful so I have trainers on.

“I’m hoping I can get a pair of golf shoes on by the end of the week. I had a shot out of a bunker today and I nearly fell over!”
Let’s hope, after his superb first round, that McArthur doesn’t turn out to be the pacemaker and knows that golf tournaments are a marathon, not a sprint.

Here comes the sun

If there is one outstanding advantage of being a European Challenge Tour player, it’s that the summer begins nice and early. In late January to be exact!

From the British players who have been enduring the cold and snow in recent weeks, to the Scandinavians who have been enduring the cold and snow… well… probably all year, everybody has arrived at the Gujarat Kensville Challenge to be embraced by some beautiful weather and they are loving it.

Daily temperatures are reaching 30 degrees while the cool breeze sweeping across the course provides a perfect balance, making it an ideal start to the season on the weather front.

Players stumped by the “Big Challenge”

The latest edition of the Challenge Tour’s “Big Challenge” video feature was filmed on Pro-Am day at the Gujarat Kensville Challenge and great fun was had by all as our Challenge Tour stars took out their drivers and two-irons and attempted to strike a cricket wicket full-on from 22 yards.

There were some spectacular strikes as well as some spectacular misses as the English, the Welsh and the Indians took on the Challenge.

Players involved included Rhys Davies, Shiv Kapur, Steven Tiley, Ben Parker, and Gaganjeet Bhullar while one player from the less prominent cricketing nation of Austria – HP Bacher – was the star of the show, hitting the wicket with his first shot thanks to a stunning two-iron punch.

Indeed, some shots were hit with such venom that two of the stumps were cracked in half! All in the name of fun and the video feature will go live on YouTube and on europeantour.com very soon.

To view our previous “Big Challenge” videos on YouTube, click here.

Friday Night fever

Golf and American Football may be poles apart as far as sports go but one golfer at the Gujarat Kensville Challenge this week, Rhys Enoch, is taking inspiration from a television show based around a fictional American Football Team, “Friday Night Lights”.

The TV show has been hugely popular across the water in the USA and has also built a cult following on British and European soil.

Indeed, yours truly professes to be an obsessive fan of the NBC show so on discovering through Twitter that Enoch is an avid follower, it had to be mentioned that the Challenge Tour Press Officer on site this week is proudly carrying a Friday Night Lights t-shirt in one’s suit case.

That was nothing, insisted the Welshman, before lifting his shirt to reveal a tattoo on his side proclaiming the words, “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts”, which is the motto regularly roared by the manager Coach Taylor in the dressing room throughout the five series of the show, to a raucous reply of “Can’t lose!” from his team.

The affable Enoch says he takes inspiration from the phrase and here’s hoping it inspires him to many a happy Sunday night on the Challenge Tour and European Tour in the future.

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