Increase in Indian Open purse has made golf popular: Brijinder Singh -
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Increase in Indian Open purse has made golf popular:  Brijinder Singh

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Brijinder Singh, President, Indian Golf Union

Khel Today Bureau 

New Delhi: Australia’s Peter Thomson had already achieved legendary status before he hit Indian shores. Thomson had won the world’s oldest Major – British Open – in 1954, 1955, 1956 and 1958 and got only 1000 pounds as a winner before he won the inaugural Indian Open trophy in 1964. The Australian went on to win the Indian Open in 1966 and 1976 as well, creating a milestone in Indian golf.

Even though the prize money was miniscule, Thomson’s interest in India’s National Open created massive interest worldwide. A lot has changed since then in Indian golf.

Organised by the Indian Golf Union (IGU), a National Sports Federation recognised by the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports and Indian Olympic Association (IOA), today the tournament is India’s largest and most prestigious event in terms of cash prize.

The tournament – now in its 57th edition – sponsored by Hero MotoCorp will carry a record purse of US$2.25 million with the winner’s share pegged at $382,500 and runner-up capturing $247,500. The Indian open will be the second of five events comprising the Asian Swing as part of the new-look 2024 Race to Dubai.

Sanctioned by the DP World Tour and PGTI, Hero Indian Open will be organised from March 28 to 31 at the DLF Golf & Country Club in Gurugram with an enhanced purse of $2.25 million.

Golfer Manu Gandas; Mr Brijinder Singh, President, Indian Golf Union; Mr SK Sharma, Chairman – HIO Committee; Golfer Aman Raj; Mr Bharatendu Kabi, Head – Corporate Communications & CSR, Hero MotoCorp; Mr Tusch Daroga, VP-Operations, DLF Golf & Country Club, with the Hero Indian Open trophy. 

IGU President Brijinder Singh said that higher prize money attracts top-ranked golfers to play in the event. LIV Golf regular and multiple Asian Tour champion Anirban Lahiri, 2015 Indian Open winner, along with three-time DP World Tour winner Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium will constitute a stellar field for the event.

“Not just the prize money but every aspect of the game has evolved. Yes, beyond being excited about the increased prize money, we are more than grateful to our title sponsor Hero for supporting us. With the increase in prize money, people’s interest in golf has increased. Better players are coming here and the kind of game they have shown here has helped in increasing the popularity of golf in the country,” Singh said.

In 1965, an amateur Indian player PG Sethi won the India Open for the first time. Since then, eight Indians including Ali Sher (1991, 1993), Firoze Ali (1998), Arjun Atwal (1999), Jyoti Randhawa (2000, 2006, 2007), Vijay Kumar (2002), C Muniyappa (2009), Anirban Lahiri (2015) and SSP Chawrasia (2016, 2017) have won this event with three professionals claiming the silverware on multiple occasions.

The prize money in 1991 was $150,000 but got doubled only in 2005 when Hero MotoCorp took up the title rights.

“In the year 1991, only few top-ranked players came here, but now more players are coming due to the prestige and pride attached to this event. It is a collective effort that involves the hard work of a lot of people… IGU is always at the forefront to promote golf in the country. Other sponsors also have a role to play and the biggest players also have a role to play,” the IGU President said.

Bharatendu Kabi, Head – Corporate Communications & CSR (Hero MotoCorp), said: “You have to support at least two generations of sports people right from when they’re young. When we took over the title rights in 2005, Indian Open purse stood at $300,000. It gives us immense pride because of the number of years that we have remained committed to golf since it’s not just a commercial exercise but we look at it as long-term passion, part of nation building. That is based purely on the commitment of our Chairman Dr. Pawan Munjal, which is very well-known. We want to take Indian sports beyond our borders across to several other countries,” Kabi said.

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