Calcutta: The country’s top golfers, who have withdrawn from the Professional Golfers Association of India (PGAI), have the “blessings” of the iconic Kapil Dev, who is an Asian Tour director. The new body, one understands, will be called the Professional Golf Tour of India.
“All sportspersons have my blessings... I do believe that only sportsmen and women should run sports... Sure, you can have businessmen and politicians, but sportspersons must be the ones to call the shots,” Kapil, the first captain to bring cricket’s World Cup to Asia, told The Telegraph.
Speaking on Friday, the day after the Jyoti Randhawas pulled out of the PGAI, he added: “I was overseas for some time and have just got back... I don’t know whether Jyoti and the others are forming a Tour of their own, but my good wishes are with them... Quite a few golfers were in touch with me and I’ve helped in the best manner I could...”
Golf has been Kapil’s No.1 obsession since he quit cricket 12 years ago.
The PGAI split, meanwhile, is turning nasty as the six members who sat on the board till they “voluntarily” resigned this summer, intend taking their successors to court. “A criminal case, I believe, is going to be filed,” informed Brandon de Souza of Tiger Sports Marketing (TSM), the agency handling the PGAI-run Tour since 1997.
He didn’t go into details, but did say it was the fallout of Thursday’s developments.
In another twist, those who sat on the board (Uttam Singh Mundy and Ajai Gupta, for example) when the golfers began moving out, have themselves resigned. “We’ve put in our papers,” remarked Gupta, who appears to have emerged the public face of those who’ve left the PGAI.
Strongly refuting the PGAI allegation (communicated through a Media release) that he and his colleagues “co-opted themselves on to the board in contravention of the rules and regulations,” he said: “The processes were followed... And, if a violation did take place, why were people quiet for all these months'”
The PGAI, or what is left of it, has called an Emergent General Meeting in New Delhi on October 12.
Incidentally, Calcuttan Firoz Ali’s decision to ‘dump’ the Randhawas is being played up.
Denying the PGAI charge that some golfers hadn’t signed letters of resignation or had been forced to do so, Gupta commented: “That’s not true... Nobody is being forced to do anything... If the top golfers have moved out, it’s because they want to run the Tour with the help of professional appointments... That, indeed, is the norm worldwide.”
He continued: “The sponsors are happy with what has happened and I’m confident some of the biggest names will leave the PGAI early next week... We’ve been assured support, but I won’t take names till they’ve resigned.”
Clearly, he was referring to Arjun Atwal and Jeev Milkha Singh.
Strangely, nobody could list the number of PGAI members till it split. “A maximum of 200,” claimed Gupta, while De Souza felt it was “around 250.”
Its monopoly over marketing golf threatened, TSM has already taken the PGAI to court after the last lot of board members served a “termination notice”. De Souza had this to say: “We (TSM) offered Rs 3 crore for the season and were told another Rs 5 crore would be on the table (courtesy the golfers’ own initiative)... Well, where’s that money'”
Gupta declined to go into specifics, but pointed out that tournaments worth “over Rs 3 crore” had been lined up. “Please wait for a few days... A formal announcement is going to be made... We don’t want middlemen in the sport... It’s a win-win situation both for the sponsors and us golfers...”
The Indian Golf Union has been recognising the PGAI, but if the biggest names are with the new body, then a review will have to be undertaken. One learns industrialist Gautam Thapar is among those backing the Randhawas.