Calcutta: Following the huge success of the inaugural Tata Steel Open, the Indian Professional Golf Tour returns to the Steel City when the second edition of the meet tees off simultaneously with the Pro-Am at the Beldih and Golmuri Golf Clubs on Wednesday.
The total prize-money on offer will be Rs 15 lakh, a 50 per cent jump from last year’s sum. The increased purse helps the tournament get the status of a ‘major’ on the Hero Honda Indian Golf Tour. The winner will take home a cheque for Rs 2.43 lakh.
The four-day main event will begin on Thursday.
Those vying for glory will include 12 golfers from the top-15 in the money list. Adding glamour to the meet will be the presence of one Pakistani and four Bangladeshi golfers.
Most eyes will be focussed on current Order of Merit leader Digvijay Singh and defending champion and four-time golfer of the year, Mukesh Kumar. “I like both Beldih and Golmuri Club courses and would definitely try and win the championship for the second straight year,” he said.
Among other big names in the field will be twice Honda-Siel PGA champion Uttam Singh, twice Indian Open champion Ali Sher, Gaurav Ghei, who along with Digvijay Singh represented India in the recent World Cup at Kiawah Islands, popular Calcutta pro Feroz Ali, the long-hitting Indrajit Bhalotia, evergreen veterans Rohtas Singh and Basad Ali.
Exciting youngsters like Ashok Kumar, the boy from Samastipur who finished second last year, Rahil Gangjee, Rahul Ganapathy, Zai Kipgen, Vinod Kumar, Sandeep Syal and Gurbaaz Mann — the longest driving professional in Asia — will also push the top contenders.
Like last year, the Tata Open would be the most unique tournament on the Hero Honda Tour, as it would be played over two nine-hole courses. Half the field — expected to comprise 100 pros and eight amateurs — will play on one course on the opening day and the other course on day two.
After the midway cut is applied on Friday, players will complete nine holes on one course and will then be transferred to the next course, which is approximately 5 km away.