31 August 2021: Golf is back. The Hyderabad Golf Association will host 129 golfers including six amateurs as the PGTI Tour resumes for the first time since March, when the NCR Open was played in Gurugram. The 40 lakh event will be the first of ten events packed between September and December, as the Indian circuit looks to produce a thrilling finale in Jamshedpur later in December. The Golconda Masters Telangana Open will be played from Thursday this week, with Udayan Mane and Karandeep Kochhar at the head of a strong field.
Defending champion, Udayan Mane leads the field as he looks to mount a serious challenge on the order of merit leader Karandeep Singh Kochhar. The 2019 winner Chikkarangappa and Harendra Gupta, the winner of the first edition of this event will also be in the field. Rashid Khan, Khalin Joshi, Viraj Madappa and Aman Raj are also among those contending this week. Bangladeshis Md Zamal Hossain Mollah and Badal Hossain will be holding the flag for overseas professionals.
Haider Hussain, Mohd Azhar, Venkkat Gautham, Rupinder Singh Gill and Sanjay Kumar Singh are all local pros with a potentially noisy set of supporters when they tee off on Thursday. Hardik S Chawda, Tarun Ajay, Rahul Ajay, Tej Gangavarapu, Sankeerth Nidadavolu and Milind Soni are some of the local amateurs.
There have been a few showers in Hyderabad, softening the course. After a couple of practice rounds this week, there is consensus among the players that the ball isn’t rolling away. That might give just enough courage to even the short hitters to pull out the driver ever so often and play an aggressive brand of golf. “This is a driver friendly golf course,” said Mane, one of the longest hitters in Indian golf. “I expect to use it at most holes, with a rare exception like the first. I want to drive it long enough to use the pitching wedge for my second shot. I believe that will give me a great chance to reach as close to the pin as possible.”
“Ever since I have returned from Tokyo, I feel ready for a lot more competition. I want to give myself every opportunity to play my best golf irrespective of conditions. And I want to continue building my game, not only to play well in India but also try and find success in international golf,” added an exuberant Mane.
“I have spent a few days in Ahmedabad before coming here. My coach, Vijay Divecha sir has been putting me through some very specific drills. I believe these targeted practice sessions will come in handy as I look to defend my title this week.”
Kochhar has been coming off a rough path, having endured Covid 19 earlier and some after complications recently. The order of merit leader does not want to defend his cushion, but continue to play aggressively and build his campaign through an intense period of competition on the PGTI Tour.
“I haven’t played much during the past few weeks. It isn’t the ideal way to resume my season, but perhaps this week can help me find my range and progress from there,” said Kochhar. “I have also spent some time on the greens this week. Putting shall be crucial for me this week. Even if your swing is off by a bit, you can try and address it, but there is no way of doing well without putting well.”