Avani Prashanth in the ladies section, Viraj Madappa, and Rashid Khan in the Men’s qualified for the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China following a gruelling five-round selection tournament conducted by the Indian Golf Union at the Karnataka Golf Association in Bangalore last week. Each player’s best four rounds were considered when deciding the winners.
15-year-old amateur Prashanth’s best four scores of 64-69-70-71 put her two strokes ahead of professional Jahanvi Bakshi’s consistent 69-69-69-69 to claim the lone remaining spot on the women’s team where she will join LPGA regular Aditi Ashok and LET regular Tvesa Malik who were automatic entries for the three member ladies squad.
On the men’s side, two spots on the four man squad were up for grabs in the qualifier as PGA Tour star Anirban Lahiri & European Tour regular Shubhankar Sharma were already selected based on their world rankings.
Those two spots went to Asian Tour winners Viraj Madappa & Rashid Khan, who emerged from the field of 16 players consisting of 10 pros & 6 amateurs.
Madappa started strong with a 66 in the opening round and continued his momentum by adding rounds of 68-71-69-67. After dropping the 71, he finished with a four-round score of 18-under 270 to take the first spot. Khan, who was a member of the 2010 team that won silver in shot 68-73-67-66-71, to claim the second spot with a best four-rounds total of 16-under 272 16-under 272 in a keenly contested battle.
Avani Prashanth recently finished tied-21st at the prestigious Augusta National Women’s Amateur, in which she competed against a strong field of 72 players that included several of the top-ranked women amateurs in the world. She will be the only amateur on either the women’s or the men’s Indian teams this year. The Asian Games had previously restricted the event to amateurs but voted to allow professionals to compete this year.
The best score among the male amateurs was Krishnav Nikhil Chopra, son of ex-cricketer Nikhil Chopra, who shot rounds of 72-69-71-71-67.
Complete scores – Asian Games Trials
Controversy surrounding the trials
While the teams have been decided, the trials were not without controversy. According to a report by TV channel News9, Tokyo Olympian Diksha Dagar opted out of the event as she was unhappy with the IGU’s selection process while star lady amateurs Anika Varma and Sifat Sagoo couldn’t travel from the US, due to their existing tournament commitments.
During a panel discussion aired on the News9 channel, India Golf Weekly Editor Rishi Narain and IGU’s former Director General Arun Singh discussed the selection process and the decision to have amateurs and pros competing against each other for a place at the Games.
Players who were invited but couldn’t participate in the selections include the following:
Rhea Purvi Saravanan
You can watch the News 9 Panel Discussion here: