CHENNAI: S Chikkarangappa moved from 461 to 357. M Dharma rose from 1010 to 798. Aman Raj jumped from 930 to 745. It’s fair to say that the year’s first PGTI meet — Golconda Masters in Hyderabad last week — has handsomely rewarded the three men who occupied the podium. It was always going to be likely that the 2019 edition of the PGTI, the first with world ranking points, would help Indian players climb up the rankings chart but the swing is still surreal. In some cases, it has given wings to hopes.
Dharma, whose joint second in Hyderabad saw him earn 2.50 points for four days work, now says the Olympics is an attainable objective. “That it (PGTI meets) has become a world ranking event will help next year,” he says. “It is the Olympic year so if I can get ranking higher, I can get into the Olympics.”
He is also quick to note that the world ranking points is ultimately a good thing for Indian golf. “This week, Shubhankar Sharma is taking part... it is only because of ranking points. Earlier, nobody used to take part in PGTI events.”
Even then, the Hyderabad field was weak. The top player, rankings wise, was Khalin Joshi (266). But that could change as more and more professionals wake up to the possibility of what a week’s work could do to their rankings.
In fact, thanks to Sharma’s presence at the PGTI Players Championship, there is an increase in the ranking points on offer. The winner will get seven points instead of the five Chikkarangappa got last week for winning the Golconda Masters. A fact that wasn’t lost on Udayan Mane who jumped 133 places after finishing in tied fifth (1.2 points). Even if the field might, over time, become stronger because of offer of ranking points, the 27-year-old said he would prefer to play the PGTI because the new system incentivises players to stay rather than seek a new challenge elsewhere.
“There is more incentive for me to play in the PGTI now,” he says. It’s also a lot cheaper for the same stakes. “Considering the alternative is to play in the Asian Development Tour where the ranking points on offer are the same... it’s a no-brainer. Going forward, many Indians would seek to stay in the PGTI if the alternative is that (ADT). With same ranking points on offer, PGTI will be cheap for us to play in.”
Curiously enough, Chikkarangappa’s jump of 104 was not among the best among winners in the not so well known tours having points. That honour went to Sami Valimaki (1713 to 935; a jump of 778 places) for winning the Open Casa Green Golf meet on the Pro Golf Tour.