Internet Desk: The sixth edition of the McLeod Russel Tour Championship, the PGTI’s season-ending championship, boasts of a strong international flavor.
The Rs. 1.5 crore event scheduled to be played from December 21 – 24, will witness established names from Australia and Japan tee it up on the hallowed turf of the famed Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC).
Among the foreign professionals, leading the charge would be the Australian duo of Adam Blyth and Daniel Fox and Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura, all three playing as sponsor invites. The three golfers, making their debut at the RCGC, have a total of four international titles between them.
Adam Blyth, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour of Australasia, has visited India on several occasions before while playing on the Asian Tour. But this is his maiden visit to the city of Kolkata.
The 36-year-old Blyth played the Pro-Am event of the McLeod Russel Tour Championship on Tuesday and relished his first ever outing at the RCGC.
The six-foot-four-inch tall golfer from Brisbane, said, “I’m really excited about competing with some of India’s top golfers this week. I had heard a lot of good things from Indian players playing on the Asian Tour about the PGTI, so I was keen to come out here and compete.
“The likes of Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal, Anirban Lahiri and SSP Chawrasia have set the benchmark for Indian players. Now there is so much depth in talent here. Indians are winning regularly on the Asian Tour.
“The field here at the McLeod Russel Tour Championship is quite strong with the presence of SSP Chawrasia, Ajeetesh Sandhu and Shubhankar Sharma, all international winners this year. This is not an easy event to win. You’ve got to play really well.
“The RCGC course is quite challenging. It’s got the old-school kind of feel. You’ve got to shape the ball and it is essential to hit the fairways as the rough is quite thick and difficult to gauge,” added Blyth, who posted two top-10s on the PGA Tour of Australasia in 2017 that helped him finish 25th on the tour’s money list.
Unlike Blyth, his compatriot Daniel Fox has made his first journey to India this week. The 41-year-old Fox, who has one victory to his credit on the PGA Tour of Australasia, has been pleasantly surprised to discover the depth of talent in India.
The Perth-based Fox, said, “It’s my first time here. This is a big learning curve for me. I didn’t know the depth of the tour here until recently. The PGTI is producing some quality players who are doing well at the international stage.
“For instance, Shubhankar Sharma was really impressive during his win at the Joburg Open. He is someone who only recently graduated to the international level and that speaks volumes for the standard of golf on the PGTI.”
Fox, who also played the Pro-Am at the RCGC on Tuesday, added, “I believe, the RCGC provides a true test of skills for the professionals. You have to keep the ball in play and can’t afford to spray it all over. Course management would be the key here and that is one of my strengths so I fancy my chances this week.”
Fox, who had three top-10s on the PGA Tour of Australasia this year, further said, “Since this is my first time in India and Kolkata, I’d also love to take in the local flavor by exploring the city whenever I get the time this week.”
Masahiro Kawamura, who won the 2013 Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open, an event co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour, will be another name to reckon with at PGTI’s showpiece event this week.
Among the other sponsor invites from overseas is Bangladesh’s Md Siddikur Rahman, a two-time winner on the Asian Tour, who is no stranger to the RCGC having honed his skills on the PGTI for several years before graduating to the international level.
The foreign invites also include Singapore’s Choo Tze-Huang who played last year’s edition of the McLeod Russel Tour Championship as well as two more Japanese players Shotaro Wada and Yuwa Kosaihira.