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Spotlight on Viraj and Manu

Calcutta: Hosts India are expected to give defending champions Thailand a run for their money when the Asia Pacific Junior Amateur Golf Championship gets underway at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club, here, on Thursday. Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei and Sri Lanka are the other teams in the fray.

The Indian team will definitely fancy their chances with a strong squad being fielded for the tournament.

Two of the four representing India in the boys section — local favourite Viraj Madappa and Delhi’s Manu Gandas — have exceeded expectations in the recent past, stamping their class in junior tournaments as well as leaving an impression on the bigger stage.

While Manu is fresh from his victory at the All India Juniors, Viraj has been creating ripples both in the junior and senior category.

While these two youngsters will be shouldering the weight of expectations, they will find able assistance from two other talented kids — Karandeep Kocchar and Arjun Prasad.

“Thailand is our main opposition. Traditionally, they play well. But this is my home course and I know the Royal like the back of hand. Manu also is no stranger to the Royal. So we have a very good chance this time,” the 16-year-old Viraj said at the RCGC on Wednesday.

The tournament recognises both individual and team achievements, and there are many laurels to be won both in the boys and girls sections across three categories. The tournament will be played in strokeplay format with the boys competing over 72 holes while the girls will have a 54-hole competition.

The tournament assumes significance since it has now come under the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation umbrella.

“It was proposed in 2005 and it took eight years to materialise. The whole objective is to take tournament to the next level,” said Gaurav Ghosh, the chairman of the organising committee of APGC, during a media conference.