Sharmila leads the pack

Sharmila leads the pack

Womens professional golf season kicks off at KGA

Sharmila leads the pack

 The 2012 women’s professional golf season kicks off here on Wednesday with familiar faces challenging each other for the top prize.

Just as in the last two seasons, local favourite Sharmila Nicollet leads the pack with veteran Smriti Mehra expected to push her hard and Nalini Singh Siwach, Neha Tripathi and talented amateur Aditi Ashok very much capable of snatching the winner’s cheque in the Hero-KGA Women’s Pro tournament at the Karnataka Golf Association.

Rich with the experience of playing on the Ladies European Tour this season, Sharmila will be aiming to show what the India Tour missed for the latter part of the last season. Armed with a completely new golfing set, including a belly putter to help bring consistency into her short game, the 20-year-old felt the experience of having played in tough conditions across Europe should hold her in good stead.

“The conditions in Europe are extremely difficult,” said Sharmila, who made the cut in two of the 11 events she competed in. “I feel the experience of having played in such demanding courses and the fact that I hail from KGA should hold me in good stead over the next three days.”

Although Sharmila sounded confident of her chances, fatigue could  bog her down. Having arrived in Bangalore from London on Monday night, the Bangalorean has been playing non-stop for the last three months and her form has been a bit wayward.

Seasoned campaigner Smriti, who triumphed in seven of the 15 events last season including the one at the KGA, looked good in her practice rounds. Barring the duo, a lot a of focus surrounds talented teenager Aditi. The Bangalore lass made the heads turn last season when she became the youngest amateur to win a pro title and another encore from her is definitely a possibility.

The season-opening event carries a total prize purse of Rs 10 lakhs, the biggest so far in the history of women’s professional golf in India. The winner will take home Rs 2,62,500 and the runners-up takes Rs 1,80,000.