Chennai start firm favourites

Holders Ahmedabad, Greater Noida to provide stiff challenge

After making pit stops in Noida and Mumbai, the Louis Philippe Cup returns to the Karnataka Golf Association with a major tweak, hoping to produce riveting action over the next three days.

With some big guns of Indian golf forced to play for the lesser prizes in the last three editions which was played on matchplay knockout format, the organisers decided to change to strokeplay, ensuring all teams stayed in the fray until the final day.

While the fickle nature of team competition makes it difficult to pick a clear-cut favourite, TAKE Chennai appear the strongest amongst the seven competing teams with two-time champions Navratna Ahmedabad and Jaypee Greens Greater Noida expected to provide a strong challenge.

With two-time European tour winner and three-time Asian Tour champion SSP Chawrasia and in-form local pros S Chikkarangappa and Khalin Joshi leading the charge, Chennai appear good to go for the kill in this three-day event.

Although Chawrasia is rediscovering his game over the last year or so after going off the boil, his game is ideally suited for the par-72 KGA which puts emphasis on putting rather than monstrous hitting. Local lads Chikkarangappa and Joshi, who have blossomed into fine professionals on the Indian tour, know the course like the back of their hands having played plenty of golf together here. Good friends off the course as well, the two will be keen to show the local crowd how much they’ve improved over the last year.

Things won’t be served on a platter for Chennai though with Mithun Perera, Anura Rohana and Shankar Das having the wherewithal to make sure the trophy stays with Ahmedabad. Sri Lankans Perera and Rohana have tasted wins in Bengaluru that acted as a catalyst to their respective professional careers. The unassuming Shankar Das topped the PGTI Order of Merit List last season and if Perera and Rohana can get their love affair with Bengaluru to click again, then Ahmedabad could complete a hat-trick.

Greater Noida boasts of Gaganjeet Bhullar, Rashid Khan and Shamim Khan that appears formidable on paper. Rashid, touted the next big thing in Indian golf, has been in fine form since turning pro towards the end of 2013, winning two times on the Asian Tour, including one in Thailand.

Bhullar is coming back from an injury but the five-time Asian Tour winner has dished out some good golf of late without getting the desired results.

Zion Hills Bengaluru, like three other teams, have some good quality in their ranks but they will have to perform consistently well over 54 holes if they aim to go the distance.
The course is in fine shape and is expected to play true to itself over the next three days with the narrow fairways and tricky greens combining to provide a stiff test. 

The teams: Zion Hills Bengaluru: Rahil Gangjee, C Muniyappa, Abhijit Singh Chadha.
Navratna Ahmedabad: Mithun Perera, Anura Rohana, Shankar Das.

TAKE Chennai: SSP Chowrasia, Chikkarangappa, Khalin Joshi.

Jaypee Greens Greater Noida: Gaganjeet Bhullar, Rashid Khan, Shamim Khan. DLF Gurgaon: Manu Gandas, Abhinav Lohan, Shubhankar Sharma. Laqshya Mumbai: Jyoti Randhawa, Mukesh Kumar, Manav Jaini. Dev-Ellora Pune: Siddikur, Sanjay Kumar, Om Prakash Chouhan.

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