Noida: Local knowledge helped Amit Dube and Rahul Bajaj grab two of three coveted qualifier spots on Wednesday for the second edition of the Euro 200,000 Gujarat Kensville Challenge golf tournament.
Joining them in Ahmedabad will be Asian Tour regular Kunal Bhasin, as the trio earned the three berths made available by the promoters via a unique qualifier played for the first time in India.
Dube took the top spot with an even par 72 on a tough scoring day in overcast conditions while Bajaj and Bhasin scored 73 each.
Ashpreet Thind and Anirudh Goyal, both needing birdies on the 18th to force a play-off for the qualifier, finished at 74 each.
The Gujarat Kensville Challenge 2012 co-sanctioned by the European Challenge Tour and the PGTI will be held at the Kensville Golf and Country Club from January 26 to 29.
Dube played on the Asian Tour for seven years till 2007, before adding credentials as a club-fitter and doing the golf bio-mechanics course at the Titleist Performance Institute late last year.
He had nine pars in succession on the front nine and his only bogey came on the 11th.
He made up for that with a fine birdie on the par-5 560-yard 17th that brought him to even par. It was held out as the day`s best as 37 players vied for the three spots.
"The pin positions were tough and it was quite tight. I have been playing well, though of late I have been working some flaws in my swing. My visit to the US is getting my game back," said Dube.
Bhasin, who will also be playing the Asian Tour Qualifying School later this month said, "It was a great idea to have a qualifier and give the rest of the pros a chance to have a shot at the Gujarat Kensville Challenge Tour event. One must thank Kensville and ISM for the idea and I hope I can make good use of it in Ahmedabad."
Both Dube and Bhasin played most of their golf at the NOIDA Golf Course.
Bajaj, who plans to play the Indian Tour besides trying to get into some Asian tour events this year, said, "Getting into a European Challenge Tour is a fine start to the season. It was great to have a chance to qualify for a good high profile event like the Gujarat Kensville Challenge."
Bhasin, who plays on the Asian tour, had some good finishes towards the end of the season, but still missed out on retaining his card.
He was two over for the front nine following three bogeys and one birdie but he fought back well with a birdie on the 13th to finish at 73.
Rahul Bajaj, a silver medalist at the Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010, turned professional less than three months ago before the Hero Indian Open.
He had two bogeys, one each on the front and back nines and his lone birdie came on the par-4 12th.
It was the first-ever such qualifier for an international event in India.
Neeraj Sareen, Managing Director ISM India, said, "The qualifier was to give the rest of the pros a chance to make it to a big event. I am sure many other events will use such qualifiers in the future because it gives all a fair chance to make it to the main field."
This will be the second staging of the only European Challenge Tour event in India.