Vikramjit Singh, the champion

The much cracked golfing joke about old golfers was never more appropriate than when a horde of 119 seniors gathered together at the second oldest golf course in history, the Bangalore Golf Club.


Vikramjit Singh, the winner of the Y.A. Bahagia Abdul Hamid Omar Cup. — Pic. K. BHAGYA PRAKASH-

The much cracked golfing joke about old golfers was never more appropriate than when a horde of 119 seniors gathered together at the second oldest golf course in history, the Bangalore Golf Club. For the record, BGC does not want to disclose how many balls were lost during the tournament. Jokes apart, the 13th edition Asia Pacific Seniors golf championship was a great success and the icing on the cake was that an Indian senior finally etched his name on the winner's list.

Dilip Thomas, Secretary General of the Asia Pacific Golf Council staged a coup of sorts when he successfully bid to host the seniors' tournament at the Bangalore Golf Club. Despite the Mumbai blast, the SARS scare and the fact that Pakistan could not field a team with the thaw in relations only just taking shape, the tournament attracted teams from seven countries including the host nation.

Four times in a row winner of the team event in the Asia Pacific, Australia, was favourite to retain the title. New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Scotland and India made up the rest of the entries. Paksitan's A. Bari did send his entry but was unable to secure a visa for the tournament.

With the absence of defending champion, Rodney Baltrop of New Zealand, runner-up at the previous edition at New Zealand, Alex Cleave of Australia was fancied to win. But watchers of the progress of the seniors felt India's duo of Vikramjit Singh and Ashok Malik had a great chance of putting an Indian name on the roll of honour after 12 previous attempts.

The Asia Pacific seniors tournament was divided in to four age groups (55+, 60+, 65+ and 70+). Apart from the overall gross winner, there was also to be a nett winner in each age group. Two team events, the Asia Pacific team title and the International team title was also to be staged concurrently.

Scratch handicapper Nicholas Dunn from Australia stole the limelight on the first day of the three-round tournament. Carding a one over 71 for the first round, Dunn grabbed a two-stroke lead over Alex Cleave and Ron Sisson from New Zealand. India relied on Vikramjit Singh of the Delhi Golf Club whose effort of the first day was six over 76. Ashok Malik played to nine over on the first round.

On the second round, Vikramjit dazzled despite tough pin positions and slushy conditions. Vikramjit's card of one over 71 had two birdies and three bogeys and his two-stroke lead over Alex Cleave set up a great contest for the final day. Ron Sisson and Nicholas Dunn were four strokes behind the leader going into the final day, making the contest a wide open affair.On the last 18 holes, Vikramjit allowed Ron Sisson to draw level on the 10th hole but recovering quickly enough closed off the contest by the 15th hole. Australia's winning run in the Asia Pacific team event, which spanned the previous four years was broken with the New Zealand team of Andrew Hopkins, John Roche, Alistair Nicholls, Phil Yelavich, Dave Tarrant and Ron Sisson playing better than the Australians. The Australians however gained some consolation winning the International Team event pegging back a stiff challenge from the Indians. Australia had a one stroke lead over the host nation at the end of the three rounds.

The results:

Overall Gross winner for the Y.A. Bahagia Abdul Hamid Omar Cup: Vikramjit Singh (220); Runner-up: Ron Sisson ( 223); Overall nett winner: K. R. Rajshekar ( 214); runner-up: Ramlinge Gowda (220); Gross winner ( Age Groups) 55+: Nicholas Dunn (224); 60+: Alex Cleave (224); 65+: Ashok Singh Malik (229); 70+: B. K Gajraj (281). APGC winning team: New Zealand (Ron Sisson, Phil Yelavich, Andrew Hopkins, John Roche, David Tarrant and Alistair Nicholls). International winning team: Australia ( Alex Cleave, Nicholas Dunn and Geoffrey Davey).