Strong foreign contingent all set to challenge Indians at the Classic Golf Country Club International Championship 2019
Miguel Carballo, a well-travelled and experienced professional from Argentina who has made Asia as his main Tour over the last couple of seasons, will be hoping to cash in on his resurgent form as he takes on the field at the Classic Golf & Country Club International Championship 2019, all set to be held at the storied Classic Golf & Country Club later this week from September 12 to September 15, 2019.
Apart from the 40-year-old professional, the strong international challenge will be spearheaded by Korea’s Taehee Lee, 35, winner of the GS Caltex Maekyung Open, Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura, 26, who is hoping to end a run of seconds – four since last year – this week, and Thai talent, Kosuke Hamamoto, 20, who came close to winning last week, finishing second in Chinese Taipei.
The field of 156 will have players from about 24 countries and will be an interesting clash between the young and the experienced from all over the Asian Tour.
India’s challenge will be led by youngsters like Viraj Madappa, Khalin Joshi, who broke through wins last year, Ajeetesh Sandhu, winner in Chinese Taipei in 2017, Rashid Khan, a two-time winner on Asian Tour, S Chikkarangappa, who had been close to his maiden win, Aman Raj, Kshitij Naved Kaul, Aadil Bedi and Karandeep Kochhar, who comes fresh off a Top-10 in Chinese Taipei last week.
The field also includes two veterans, Jyoti Randhawa, the 2002 Asian Tour No. 1 and winner of multiple titles, and Singapore legend Mardan Mamat, who has tasted success in India.
Other stars, who have won on the Asian Tour include veteran Mukesh Kumar, winner of more than 100 titles on the Indian PGTI Tour, Digvijay Singh, C Muniyappa, Himmat Singh and veterans Feroze Ali and Vijay Kumar.
The field also includes two standout amateurs, Kartik Sharma, who has just made the International Team for Junior President’s Cup in Melbourne later this year. He will also represent India at the Asia-Pacific Amateurs later this month. The other amateur to watch out for will be the long-hitting Harshjeet Sethie, for whom Classic Golf & Country Club is very familiar. The young duo will also be representing India at the Nomura Cup later this year. Also, Saurav Rathi, a product of the Classic Golf & Country Club, will turn pro at the event.
Carballo, who ended his search for a maiden Asian Tour title a fortnight ago in Indonesia, played in the United States between 2007 and 2014, including two years on the PGA Tour. He won twice on the Korn Ferry Tour, the second rung Tour in the US. Before coming to US, Carballo played on the Latin American and the European Challenge Tours. He turned to the Korn Ferry Tour for another stint from 2015 to 2017 before coming to the Asian Development Tour (ADT) and Asian Tour at the start of 2018.
On the ADT he won the 2018 Ciputra Golfpreneur Tournament in Indonesia and led the Order of Merit to earn promotion to the Asian Tour. He again won on the 2019 ADT in Phuket and last month, he won his first Asian Tour event, the Bank BRI Indonesia Open.
Young talent Hamamoto, who came through the Asian Tour qualifiers last December, came within striking distance of winning in his rookie year as he was second at TPC Yeangder in Chinese Taipei. That finish earned him a spot in this week’s Classic Golf & Country Club International Championship.
Hamamoto, who had a stellar amateur career, was born to a Japanese father and a Thai mother, but has chosen to play for Thailand. He was the best Thai at T-7 in the Asian Games and his team narrowly missed the bronze medal as they finished fourth, one shot behind the South Koreans.
Kawamura, who was second three times on the Japan Tour last year also finished second at the Hero Indian Open earlier this year. He is back in India in search for his first win since his maiden success in 2013.
Kawamura was 20 when he won the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open in Osaka in 2013. After that he had a bunch of Top-10s, but no wins. He had a rough season in 2017 with no Top-10s. He found his touch again in 2018, when he had three second place finishes in Japan and also qualified for the Open Championships, where he was T-39.
Taehee Lee winner of the highly competitive Maekyung Open this year is another strong contender at the inaugural edition of the Classic Golf & Country Club International Championship.
The Classic Golf & Country Club is considered one of the finest courses in India and South Asian region. The retreat is part of a sprawling 300-acre verdant estate, showcasing South Asia’s only 27-hole signature golf course designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus.
Adjacent to the signature golf course is the ITC Grand Bharat - an all Suites Retreat and the ultimate expression of Unhurried Luxury.
The Classic Golf & Country Club is also the first designer course in India, bearing the stamp of Nicklaus, who won 18 Majors, a record that stands even today. The estate also houses a unique ‘Golf Academy’ for aspirational young golfers.
It has an 18-hole Signature Championship Course and a 9-hole Signature Canyon Course built at the foothills of the picturesque Aravallis. The hillocks and knolls lend themselves ideally to create enticing fairways, cunning and tricky greens and in-play water, which are enough to challenge any golfer.
Yet, the course was made in a manner that it could cater to the entire spectrum of golfers. However, the more discerning golfers do find it a technical challenge at every shot.
Nicklaus, while talking of the course, had said, “Your game will be more of precision than power; it will reward you if you use your mind more than your muscles.”
PHOTO CAPTION: Argentine Miguel Carballo winner of Indonesia Open