Indians won 9 titles across tours in 2017 to cap the most successful season in a decade, promising more glory in 2018.
Golf Digest has been at the forefront of educating Indian fans about the latest happenings and trends in the sport. In keeping with our endeavour to popularise the game in the country, we have reviewed the performances of Indian golfers in the year gone by.
If 2016 was the ‘Fairytale Season’, I must gleefully admit that 2017 is easily the most successful year for Indian professionals globally in past 10 years. Not only did our golfers win 9 titles in workmanlike fashion across Tours, an improvement of 2 trophies from 2016, they also pocketed US$ 982,165 (approx. Rs. 6.23 crore) for the silverware collected.
In all, Indians won more than US$ 5 million (approx. Rs. 32 crore) internationally, including a creditable US$ 275,113 (approx. Rs 1.76 crore) by talented women’s professional Aditi Ashok.
Interestingly, the topmost earner in badminton, World No. 3 Kidambi Srikanth, fell short of the prize money collected by Aditi in 2017. Srikanth pocketed US$ 236,423 from 17 events.
Aditi also towers above shuttling sensations PV Sindhu (US$ 157,325), the World No. 3 no less, and World No. 10 Saina Nehwal (US$ 34,915) with her third Ladies European Tour (LET) crown at the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open pushing her to 81st spot in the Rolex World Rankings.
PGA Tour regular Anirban Lahiri led the global earnings charts with US$ 2.24 million (approx. Rs 14.38 crore) from 27 events, which included 6 top-10 finishes. Kolkata pro SSP Chawrasia was top grosser on the Asian Tour with a haul of US$ 440,747, helping him finish fifth on the Order of Merit.
But Delhi lad Shiv Kapur was comfortably the most happening story of the year with 3 trophies in his bag after he ended his 12-year-long title drought on the Asian Tour with victory at the US$ 300,000 Yeangder Heritage in Taiwan. He then went on to wow his home fans by clinching the US$ 400,000 Panasonic Open India at the Delhi Golf Club in November. The luck brought by his newborn daughter Veda continued till the end of the year, with Kapur lifting the invitational Royal Cup on December 31 in Pattaya, Thailand.
Chandigarh pro Ajeetesh Sandhu made a statement by clinching his breakthrough Asian Tour win at the US$ 500,000 Yeangder Tournament Players Championship in Taiwan followed by his maiden Japan Challenge Tour victory at the Taiheiyo Club Challenge just a week later.
Kapurthala hotshot Gaganjeet Bhullar lifted the US$ 500,000 Macao Open trophy for the second time in his career to stamp India’s authority on the Asian Tour. Indians collected a total of 5 Asian Tour titles and 2 European Tour trophies in 2017 to prove their mettle in overseas competitions.
Interestingly, they are marginally behind Thailand when it comes to keeping their cards for the 2018 season. 12 Indians qualified for this season, just one behind Thailand, thereby proving their rising stature in golf on the Asian continent.
21-year-old Gurgaon pro Shubhankar Sharma scripted a runaway victory at the US$ 1.07 million Joburg Open to become the youngest Indian ever to claim a European Tour title.
On the women’s side, it was Aditi Ashok who kept the country’s pride aloft by completing a dramatic victory in Abu Dhabi.
In all, it was a remarkable year for our golfers who announced their arrival of sorts on the world stage in an emphatic way.
All the best to each one of them for a fabulous 2018!
(Read more in the February issue of Golf Digest India. Download here.)