As 2017 draws to a close, Indian golf has plenty to celebrate. After years of teasing fans with the taste of promise, our golfers finally took the challenge head on to establish India as a growing power on the Asian Tour. The victory of SSP Chawrasia in the Hero Indian Open in March, set the tone. The thumping victory of Shubhankar Sharma in the Joburg Open last Monday underlined India’s growing stature on the international stage. Here are the seven moments that lit up a million smiles across 2017 India Golf –
7. Ajeetesh Sandhu blossoms into a real champion
Sandhu leapfrogged from playing without a card to a champion – making the best use of a country exemption at the Yeangder TPC.
He became just the second player to win an Asian Tour event without a full Tour card. Jazz Janewattananond is the other golfer.
In winning the Yeangder TPC, Sandhu emulated compatriot Gaganjeet Bhullar as only the second Indian to win the event.
6. Ajeetesh Sandhu never took his foot off the pedal
Ajeetesh seems to have a found a new gear midway through the 2017 season. He flew from Taiwan to Japan to win another event the very next week
He braved difficult conditions to claim a solid victory in the Taiheiyo Club Challenge Tournament on the Japanese Challenge Tour
Sandhu went on to finish T2 in the Macao Open and the Panasonic Open India, underlining his desire to make the most of his red hot form
Ajeetesh ended the season on a high, producing consecutive rounds of 67 to end the week in T8
5. Shiv Kapur achieved a lifelong aspiration
Shiv Kapur had a pair of Asian Tour victories in Thailand and Chinese Taipei, but the one he coveted was a victory at the Delhi Golf Club, his home course. Earlier in the year, Shiv surprised himself with a terrific victory at the Yeangder Heritage, for his second Asian Tour victory. Winning the Panasonic Indian Open took a run of four birdies on the back nine, firing just when it mattered to realise a cherished dream. The three shot victory capped off a wonderful year for Shiv, whose wife Maya also gave birth to their first child this year.
4. Gaganjeet Bhullar continues his winning ways
After putting his career back on track with a pair of Asian Tour victories in 2016, Gaganjeet emphasized his return to the big league with another fine victory at the Macao Open
It was the eighth Asian Tour victory for Bhullar, the most for any golfer under 30 on that circuit.
The 29 year old seems to have picked up a second wind and is working in the USA with Noah Montgomery as he looks to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit
3. SSP Chawrasia reinforces his credentials with a solid title defense
One of the highlights of the season was Chawrasia’s bold defense of the Hero Indian Open title.
It was Chawrasia’s sixth Asian Tour victory and the third title in the span of one year – a run that included two Indian Opens and the Manila Masters.
Chawrasia was also honoured by the government with an Arjuna Award, a long cherished recognition for the great Indian golfer.
2. Anirban Lahiri establishes himself firmly on the PGA TOUR
Anirban produced some outstanding results this season on the PGA TOUR. He recorded his best finish so far, finishing T2 in the Memorial Tournament. The 30 year old is currently ranked 69 – clocking a pair of top ten finishes already in a still young 2018 season. Anirban is currently ranked 24th on the FedexCup ranking for 2018 with an earnings of USD611,090.
1. Shubhankar Sharma produces a gem to steal the show
The 21 year old Shubhankar Sharma made the biggest statement of the season, winning the Joburg Open with a stellar performance. Victory gave Shubhankar access to the European Tour for 2018 with a full card to play on the prestigious Tour. Shubhankar also earned a ticket to the Open Championship with his remarkable effort in the Joburg Open.