Mumbai: Indian golf witnessed the dawn of a new era as more than Rs. 3.83 crores (just under $ 700,000) was spent in the auction for 24 players as the inaugural Pearl Golf Premier League in association with Aamby Valley City was launched officially in Mumbai on Friday evening.
After the glittering launch featuring Bollywood superstar No. 1 Akshay Kumar, and his senior in the industry, Vinod Khanna, in the afternoon, as many as 24 players in three categories were ‘auctioned’ off in the evening at the resplendent Sahara Star Hotel. Akshay requested Vinod Khanna to sound the gong to signal the formal and official launch of the inaugural Pearl Golf Premier League in association with Aamby Valley City.
The golf auction in India was a historic first, as eight franchises bought three players each – a fourth was added to each one of them on the basis of their spend in the auction – to form their teams for the three-day path-breaking event to be held at the award-winning Aamby Valley Golf course from February 7 to 10, 2013.
As is always the case the auction generated a lot of excitement with the 2005 US Open champion, New Zealand’s Michael Campbell, who is once again running into form, was picked by Shubhkamna Eagles for a the highest figure of $ 61,000 (Rs. 33.55 lakhs), while Indian Internationals Shiv Kapur ($ 59,000) and Gaganjeet Bhullar ($ 58,000) were picked by Maharashtra 59ers and Witalsee Punjab Lancers respectively as the next in the pecking order.
Shubhkamna Eagles were the highest spenders at $ 1,50,000 (Rs. 82.5 lakhs) with Maharashtra 59ers at $ 1,35,000 (Rs. 74.25 lakhs) and Witalsee Punjab Lancers with $ 1,08,000 (Rs. 59.40 lakhs).
Among the teams which picked some of the big names were Maharashtra 59ers (Angel Cabrera, the two-time Major winner), Uttarakhand Lions (2011 Open winner, Darren Clarke), Colombo 6’s (Simon Dyson) and Tamilnadu Pullees (Rich Beem, a former PGA Championships winner).
Asian No. 1 Thaworn Wiratchant went to Witalsee Punjab Lancers, while world record holder, Chapchai Nirat went to Uttarakhand Lions and Daniel Chopra was picked by Shubhkamna Eagles.
Among Indian Internationals, Anirban Lahiri, who became the first player ever to go under the hammer, went to Shubhkamna Eagles for $ 52,000 and it set the trend for the evening.
“It was a very exciting day with the launch of the Pearls Golf Premier League by our own Brand Ambassador, Akshay Kumar, who is not only India’s top film star, but a perfect example of fitness. It was heartening to see the kind of response we got at the launch event.
Later in the evening, the auction, carried out for the first time ever in golf was thrilling as each team had its own strategy and along with their coaches/ advisors all teams picked the players they wanted in their squad. Now the stage is set for the inaugural Pearls Golf Premier League at the Aamby Valley Golf Course next month,” said KK Bakshi, spokesperson Pearls.
“I have always followed and encouraged any kind of sport, be it kabaddi, cricket, football, wrestling and now golf. I started my life with martial arts and still support training for the sport and my father was a wrestler and now Pearls is coming into other sports including golf and I wish them all the best,” said Akshay Kumar, India’s top actor and Brand Ambassador of Pearls Group.
Vivek Kumar, CEO Aamby Valley City and Hotel Sahara Star,” said, “We are extremely pleased to be associated with the prestigious Pearls Golf Premier League. At Aamby Valley City we have always aimed to provide golf enthusiasts with a memorable golfing experience and the event is sure to be an exciting occasion for all golfers. The country has never seen anything so exciting as the launch of Golf premier League, and the subsequent auction for the event, it has set a new trend in Indian golf. Voted as the Best International Golf Course at the International Property Awards, the golf course at Aamby Valley City is designed to match international luxury standards which are ideal for championships of this stature.”