Strong start for Neha
26-year-old Neha Tripathi, who had finished third on the Hero Order of Merit last season (with earnings of 11,74,200), got her new year off to a
flier with victory in Leg 1 (January 16-18) of the Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour (WPGT).
The Kolkata native collected a winner’s cheque of ₹1,44,000 after rounds of 74, 66 and 72 at Poona Golf Course five strokes ahead of Pranavi S. Urs. 18 year-old Diksha Dagar finished a further two shots behind and settle for third.
Neha will be competing in select events on Symetra Tour, which is the
official developmental circuit of the LPGA Tour. Diksha, meanwhile, has a limited playing itinerary on the Ladies European Tour.
Indian Ladies Can Now Turn Pro At 16
In a move that will surely excite the country’s promising girls, Women’sGolf
Association of India (WGAI) has decided to reduce the age for turning professional to 16 from 18. The move already has 15-year-old Pranavi Urs, a Faldo Series India winner, thinking. “… I am contemplating on joining the professional ranks since the Women’s Professional Golf Tour of India has recently reduced their age qualification to 16 years.
Looking forward to taking my game to the next level,” she told Golf Digest India. Clearly a much-needed step, this will give youngsters ample opportunities to earn while pursuing their dream of becoming a top professional.
J. Narain of Hero MotoCorp said: “As sponsors of the Women’s Professional Tour, Hero MotoCorp welcomes the WGAI’s decision to lower the age limit as today we find the top players in India are getting younger all the time. This will give the top Indian amateur girls a chance to turn professional, join our tour and gain experience competing against the best women golfers in the country on a regular basis. The tour will also see a rise in membership and participation and we look forward to that.”
Pro golfer Gaurika Bishnoi said: “I think it’s a great step and will definitely help the younger generation, the number of girls turning professional will also increase now because of the age reduction which ultimately benefits the women’s golf in India.”
Champika Sayal, WGAI Secretary General,said: “The game of golf is getting younger and we need to match the international circuits… When Aditi Ashok participated in Rio Olympics 2016, she was just 20 years and four months; I believe with the age reduction we might break the record set by her, by sending a much younger golfer.”
All said, this is a historic decision pertaining to women’s golf in India and, according to updated rules, all players below the age of 18 must be accompanied by their guardians at tournament venues, a rule also present on international tours.
Eligible age to turn pro (various tours)
LPGA Tour – 18 years (most recent, and famous, exception being Lydia Ko)
Ladies European Tour – 18 years; unless special dispensation is given by the CEO
Australian Ladies Professional Golf – 18 years; players aged 16-18 need special permission for ALPG Probationary membership