Chikka, Joshi, Randhawa, Rashid among top contenders in Inaugural TAKE Open Golf Championship

Chikka S of IndiaBengaluru: The inaugural TAKE Open Golf Championship, the 13th event of the landmark 10th PGTI season, is set to feature some of India’s leading international stars.

The field will be headlined by two of India’s rising stars, Chikkarangappa S and Khalin Joshi, both Bengalureans, along with international winners such as the legendary Jyoti Randhawa as well as Rashid Khan and Rahil Gangjee.

It will be a sweet homecoming for Chikka, who recently secured his Asian Tour card for 2017 after a third straight top-10 in Asia.

A confident Chikka said, “I was struggling with my wedge play till very recently. But after working with my coach, I was able to make a huge improvement in this aspect. As a result, I came up with some low scores over the last one month.

“It’s a big relief that I don’t have to go to the Asian Tour Q School now. The fact that I had to save my card was constantly on my mind, so there was a lot of pressure. But I just told myself to hang in there and be patient.

“It’s a fantastic track here at the KGA which is almost like a second home course to me. I have great memories of the KGA having won here in my junior and amateur days. I also won the LP Cup team and individual event here earlier this year.

“The starting and finishing holes are quite important at KGA. They look easy, but if you’re a little off the mark, you could be in big trouble.

“I’m delighted to be playing this event since I’m part of the TAKE family. TAKE Solutions has done a lot to support the PGTI and Indian professionals over the last few years. The launch of the TAKE Open Golf Championship is yet another boost for the PGTI and Indian professional golf,” added Chikka, the reigning Rolex Ranking champion.

Like Chikka, Khalin too was part of the TAKE Chennai team that won the LP Cup team event at KGA earlier this year. Khalin will be one of the pre-tournament favourites as he is playing at his home course.

Khalin said, “It’s a special week for me since I’m playing at my home course and the event is sponsored by TAKE Solutions which also sponsors me.

“I’m quite excited to be back at KGA since I won my last event here earlier this year. I also won on the PGTI two months back so that too adds to my confidence.

“It’s a course that favours good ball-striking. The rough is up so there will be a premium on hitting the fairways. One has to be patient here as you will make mistakes.

“I’m in contention for the Rolex Player of the Year title along with the likes of Ajeetesh, Shubhankar and Rashid. I feel the competition for the No. 1 position will get really intense from here on,” added Joshi.

Former Asia No. 1 Jyoti Randhawa returns to the PGTI after 10 months. A fully fit Jyoti, who recently recovered from a foot injury, can’t wait to tee it up at one of his favourite venues, the KGA.

Randhawa said, “I love coming back to Bengaluru to play. The KGA course is in great shape and the weather is ideal. The KGA, one of the top courses in Asia, demands good ball-striking and putting. You’ve got to play your best golf here.

“The addition of the TAKE Open Golf Championship to the PGTI schedule is great news. We need more such events. I thank Mr. H R Srinivasan for this initiative. He has been a big supporter of Indian golf over the years.

“With the PGTI getting stronger, you can see the difference with more Indian players coming through at the international level. The more sponsors we have, the more the potential to produce top players.

“I’ve totally recovered from the injury to my right foot. But I’ve not played too much of late so the swing has been on and off. I’ve played four weeks in a row after a long time. So that’s got me into the playing mode. Now I just need to put four good rounds together and find my rhythm,” added the seasoned Randhawa.

The other big names in the field are, Ajeetesh Sandhu, Shubhankar Sharma and Rashid Khan, the top-3 in the Rolex Ranking at the moment, as well as the Bengaluru-based duo of Rahil Gangjee and Udayan Mane.

If one goes by recent form, Mukesh Kumar, last week’s winner in Chennai, will also be a contender. The international challenge will be led by Sri Lankan Mithun Perera.