Newsmakers: July 2019

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Gangjee T-32 in Japan

Rahil Gangjee
Image: Asian Tour

40-year-old Indian golfer Rahil Gangjee shot rounds of 74, 73, 75 and 71 at the ¥100,000,000 (US$ 9, 23,753) to finish T-32 at the Mizuno Open held from May 29 – June 2 on the Japan Golf Tour. The tournament was played at The Royal Golf Club, Ibaraki, one of the longest golf courses in the world, set up across 18 holes at an exhaustive 8143 yards.

Rahil Gangjee won his maiden Japan Golf Tour event at the Panasonic Open in April last at the same golf club, ending his 14-year title drought. He earned US$283,000 as winners’ cheque and a two-year exemption on the Asian and Japan Golf Tours.

33-year-old local Yuta Ikeda cashed in ¥20,000,000 (US$1, 84,680) with his one-shot win over the American Chana Kim at 7-under 281.

Sandhu invited for ADT events

Yuvraj Sandhu

22-year-old Chandigarh golfer Yuvraj Singh Sandhu has been extended an invite to play on the Asian Development Tour’s US $54,000 PGM CCM & CCM Duopharma ADT Championship (June 26-29) at Tiara Melaka Golf and Country Club in Malaysia and US $75,000 Gunung Geulis Championship (July 30-August 2) at Gunung Geulis Country Club, Indonesia. Previously ranked No.1 amateur in the country, Sandhu is currently playing his second-year on the PGTI Tour.

Yuvraj made his Asian Tour debut at the 2018 Panasonic Open (October 25-28) at Delhi Golf Club, where he shot 6-under 66 on Day 2 to tie for the best round of the day with 18-year-old Kshitij Naveed Kaul.

Hovland shatters amateur record at the US Open

Viktor Hovland

World No.1 amateur, 21-year-old Norwegian Viktor Hovland from Oklahoma State University, is in the news for all the right reasons. After winning the Ben Hogan best collegiate golfer award in May, Hovland shot 69, 73, 71 and 67. He finished T-12 alongside the English trio of Matthew Fitzpatrick, 2016 Masters Champion Danny Willet, and the 2018 Indian Open winner Matt Wallace at the 119th US Open.

Hovland birdied the 18th hole to shoot 4-under 67 and set a new 72-hole scoring record for an amateur in the US Open. His 4-under 280 total breaks Nicklaus’ 282-mark set in 1960 at Cherry Hills Country Club in Englewood, Colo.

Previously, Hovland finished T-32 as the best amateur at the 2019 Masters Championship, where Tiger Woods made a major comeback after 15 years. Hovland was invited to the 2019 Masters, courtesy his win at the 2018 US Amateur Championship at Pebble Beach, the venue for the US Open.

Jack Nicklaus donates his Rolex for Children’s Hospital

Oyster Perpetual Day Date Rolex

18-time major champion, Jack ‘Golden Bear’ Nicklaus has donated his Rolex Day & Date Reference 1803 in yellow gold for a children’s hospital. The watch in context was a gift from Rolex in 1967 and was on his wrist when he won 12 of his record 18 professional major championship titles. It was often photographed when Jack Nicklaus hoisted championship trophies following his victories.

Moreover, the Day & Date is Rolex’s most prestigious model and one of the world’s most famous watches. The auction house Phillips is set to display the watch in Geneva, London, Hong Kong, and Los Angeles, among other possible stops over the next few months, before opening it to bids on December 10 in New York.

Nicklaus said the entire sale price, including Phillips’s cut, will go to the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, which he started with his wife, Barbara, in 2004. He previously spoke publicly about his intention to sell the watch before but didn’t make firm plans to do so until recently. He said he was spurred in part by the 2017 sale of late actor Paul Newman’s Rolex for $17.8 million, a record high for a wristwatch at auction.

“I decided if I take this watch and give it to one of my kids, it’ll end up in a drawer someplace,” Nicklaus said. “I said, ‘Why don’t we take this watch and do some good with it?’”

Lahiri makes it to his third US Open

Image: Asian Tour

The 119th edition of the $12,500,000 US Open (June 13-16) saw six Indians try their luck at qualifying for the third major of the year in Surrey, England, Florida and Columbus, Ohio. Only one among them, 31-year-old Anirban Lahiri, made it into the 156-men field at Pebble Beach. Lahiri is also the only Indian player currently on the PGA TOUR.

Anirban Lahiri and Shubhankar Sharma hung tight to make it to the finale where Lahiri finished solo-second, a shot behind the leader Luke Guthrie at -11. Sharma fell short by two-shots to make it to the list of 14 shortlisted men from the qualifier set at Brookside Golf and Country Club.

Lahiri made his third US Open and 16th major appearance but failed to make it to the weekend with his scores of 74 and 77 for 9-over 151, making this his third straight missed cut at the major after 2015 (Chambers Bay) and 2016 (Oakmont Golf Course). His best finish at a major still stands at T-5 at the 2015 $10,000,000 PGA Championship at Strait Course, Wisconsin, USA.

Bengalurean golfer Rigel Fernandes entered the qualifier at Streamstrong Resort in Florida and shot rounds of 75 and 73 for a total score of 2-over 148 and missed the cut. Ajeetesh Sandhu (+5), Gaganjeet Bhullar (WD) and Shiv Kapur (-1) played at Walton Heath Golf Club, Surrey, England where Sandhu and Kapur missed their respective cuts and Bhullar had to withdraw from the event after his first-round.

Before this Shiv Kapur played at the 2014 US Open, made the cut and finished T-23 at the Pinehurst No.2 Golf Course.

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