Khalin, Chikka eye winning return

Veteran Randhawa looks to turn back the clock

Khalin, Chikka eye winning return

A little over two months ago, the baby-faced Thai Poom Saksansin lifted the TAKE Solutions Masters after a consistent display over four days amidst rain and shine here in the city.

The biggest golfing event to hit the city since then -- the Bengaluru Open Golf Championship -- kicks off at the Karnataka Golf Association (KGA) from Wednesday.

While the field for the Rs 1 crore tournament may not be as competitive as the Asian Tour event, with the season ending soon, it promises to throw up keen battles as players vie to move up the Professional Golf Tour Of India's (PGTI) Order of Merit.

Shamim Khan, who is currently atop the charts, will look to cement his position at the top with a victory here but needs to stave off the fight from local lads Khalin Joshi and S Chikkarangappa.

But the going may not be as easy for the local lads as they come up against in-form veteran Jyoti Randhawa and a strong contender in Udayan Mane.

Randhawa upped his game recently and shared the lead till the end of third round at the Resorts World Manila Masters last week. But a lacklustre one-under 71 in the fourth round saw the Delhiite finish in tied-fifth.

"I was affected by a little bit of nerves in the final round at Manila. But I enjoyed the competition. If you keep knocking on the doors, it will open soon. That's what I want to do -- stay in contention, and then see what happens," said Randhawa.

Joshi, who is coming back to his home course after two months, quipped that he was well rested and raring to go.

"I haven't been in Bengaluru for two months, so it's a good feeling to be back. The course looks to be in great shape, so I'm really looking forward to hitting a low number right from tomorrow."

At the TAKE Masters in August, officials had raised the roughs, giving golfers a hard time in their pursuit of landing on the fairways. But this time around, the density of the roughs has been reduced and that should entail a low-scoring week.

Joshi opined that it could come down to who can bring out their best game on the greens. "The course is playing a lot better than it did when we came here in August. The roughs are not as thick and I feel it could all come down to a putting contest," said the 25-year-old, who after finishing second in the TAKE Masters has struggled a bit with only one top-20 finish (tied-14 at the Indonesia Open in Jakarta).

Among the foreign challengers will be Sri Lankan pro Anura Rohana. The Colombo golfer will have fond memories of the city as he lifted the Global Green Bangalore Open at the same course in 2011 and then backed that up with a triumph at the PGTI Players Championship at Prestige Golfshire in 2012.

With perfect golfing conditions expected in terms of the playing surface and weather, one thing is for sure, players will aim at going flat out right from day one. But with the unpredictability of the KGA, consistency will be the key.

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