PGTI set for return with nine events, ‘big relief’ for players

Finally, the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) the country’s premier tier in the sport is back.

Published: 16th August 2021 07:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th August 2021 07:59 AM   |  A+A-

S Chikkarangappa

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Finally, the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) the country’s premier tier in the sport is back. PGTI had taken a break for the first lockdown before taking another break as the second wave raged through the country. As a result, the organisers shuttered down the circuit following the Delhi-NCR Open from March 16-19. They are coming back with the Golconda Masters in Telangana from September 2-5. 

The relief is palpable in the voices of the professionals who have been most affected. Some of the regulars were even forced to go back to their hometowns as the prospect of no competitive golf loomed. Rashid Khan, who would have surely gone to the Olympics in a normal year, says ‘I’m just relieved’. It’s a sentiment shared by S Chikkarangappa, the player who caddied for Anirban Lahiri at the Games. 

Why? As with professional sports like tennis, they rely on prize money for earnings. With no events, a lot of their incomes had plummeted. Here’s an example that shows just how hard it’s been for most Indian golfers. Since last March, there has been nine PGTI events. It’s usually around three times that (the same period between March 2018 and September 2019 saw 26 competitions). 

Even if the likes of Lahiri have had the comfort blanket of earning via the PGA Tour, the likes of Khan have been affected more because the Asian Tour is yet to restart. As a result, a lot of golfers have had to dip into the savings. 

“Financially it was a big hit for most golfers because of a lack of tournaments,” Rashid says. “I was just sitting at home and managing with the savings I had, it was a struggle.” The 30-year-old’s plight is an apt indication for what the golfers have gone through in this time. At the start of 2020, he was 194th in the world, picking up vital ranking points on the Asian Tour. Devoid of events, he is now 569.

“I have been cooking, it’s the one thing I have been doing well during this phase,” is his response on how he spent all this down time. Rashid also makes it a point to thank the PGTI for negotiating with the sponsors (it’s to be noted that a few of the planned events is ‘to be confirmed’ at the point). 

Chikkarangappa makes the same point. “I think it’s amazing that PGTI is giving us so many events just before the end of the year (nine events),” he says. “Big relief personally because I know a fair few of my friends who have struggled (for earnings) in this period.  “I have had next to no income but the expenses — diet, nutrition, gym — keep adding. So to have this back now... it’s priceless.”

Golf pGTI


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