Host of talented names vie for honours

TOUGH FIELD: (From left) Golfers Chiragh Kumar, Khalin Joshi, Scott Vincent and SSP Chawrasia on the eve of the TAKE Solutions Masters at KGA in Bengaluru on Wednesday. DH Photo/ Srikanta Sharma R

A host of prominent names is all set to slug it out at the lush Karnataka Golf Association (KGA) from Thursday as the second edition of the TAKE Solutions Masters tees off here.

With a substantial increase in the kitty, 156 Indian and foreign golfers will all be vying for the $350,000 at stake in the Asian Tour event.

A little over a year ago, Thailand's Poom Saksansin enjoyed a fabulous outing as he occupied top position on the leaderboard from flag to post, coming up trumps after carding 16-under (268).

This time around, it may not be a walk in the park for the Thai with many players in the field sitting above him on the Order Of Merit standings.

For one of the many contenders, local lad Khalin Joshi, it will present a good opportunity to exorcise the demons of the previous edition where he fell agonisingly short of triumphing, losing out to Saksansin by two shots.

At the Maybank Championship held earlier this year, Khalin finished an impressive tied-5 but things haven't really gone according to plan since.

The KGA golfer knows that even bettering that showing may not be enough considering the competitors.

"It definitely is going to be a tough week. Of course there is pressure considering this is my home course. Added to that, every player that is here is in good form so that will make things all the more difficult."

While there will be many stars on display, notable absentees are Fiji International champion Gaganjeet Bhullar and Rahil Gangjee, who recently won the Louis Philippe Cup at the Prestige Golfshire Club in the city.

After his win in Fiji, Bhullar tweaked his schedule to play elsewhere and with Gangjee it was more of personal reasons.

Scott Vincent comes in as the highest-ranked player on the Order Of Merit standings at 10th. Despite not winning an Asian Tour title as yet, the Zimbabwean comes to Bengaluru on the back of a fine second-place finish in the Bank BRI Indonesia Open in July.

Asked if he'd like to break his duck here, Vincent replied: "I'd love to. I wish that power was in my hands. I have been playing good golf over the last two months. Hopefully this form continues but you never know with this game. It's really unpredictable."

Prevailing opinion of the course was that it wasn't going to be a smooth ride for the competitors and Vincent echoed the same.

"I was out on the course during the ProAm this morning. The course is in great condition but very challenging at the same time. Whoever hits the fairways most will be the guy that wins it. Driving out here is very important. There is a little bit of distance on this course so hitting it far and in play is going to be a real premium considering you come in with the shorter iron shots."

Come Thursday, it will be a challenge for the Indians to keep the trophy at home but with likes of Khalin, S Chikkarangappa and SSP Chawrasia among veterans like Jeev Milkha Singh and Jyoti Randhawa, it will not be impossible.

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Host of talented names vie for honours

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