Shubhankar Sharma and Ajeetesh Sandhu, two youngsters with triumphs on the global stage, join seasoned champion S. S. P. Chawrasia in the playing field, alongside others, for the McLeod Russel Tour Championship, which gets underway at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) from Thursday. The PGTI year-ender this time is all for an exciting extravaganza, with a host of Indian and foreign golfers gearing up to show their best at the oldest golf course outside the British Isles. The mix of players gives a colourful hue to the tourney.

Chawrasia, the defending Indian Open champion and a native of the city, leads the list of favourites on his home course. Shubhankar and Ajeetesh are close on his heels with their recent success in the European and Asian Tours. In fact, all the three are international winners this year.

Shubhankar grabbed headlines recently for becoming the youngest Indian to win on the European Tour when he won the Jo’burg Open in South Africa by three shots. This win gave Sharma a ticket to his first Major, which will be the British Open next year. “It was a highly satisfying win for me as I weathered tough conditions to be the best in a field of 240. I am now really excited about playing my first Major next year,” Shubhankar said. Last week, he finished tied 11th at an Asian Tour event in Indonesia.

‘Hope to carry momentum’

Looking ahead to the year-ender, he said, “I am playing well and feeling fit. I will hope to carry the momentum from the last two weeks,” Shubhankar said.

Ajeetesh has also been in good form, winning his maiden Asian Tour at the Yearender Tournament Players Championship in Taipei. He also won the Japanese Challenge Tour trophy, thereby continuing his success in what has been a memorable year for him; he had tasted PGTI success in the first half of the season.

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Besides the three, the other leading Indian names with international wins under their belts are Jyoti Randhawa, Rashid Khan, Chiragh Kumar, Rahil Gangjee and S. Chikkarangappa. Leading among the foreign professionals are the Australian duo of Adam Blyth and Daniel Fox and Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura. These three foreign golfers, making their debut at the RCGC, have a total of four international titles between them.

The event will decide the PGTI Order of Merit champion and vying for top honours are current leaders Shamim Khan (Rs. 46,27,983), Udayan Mane (Rs. 41,26,751) and Anura Rohana (Rs. 32,68,836).