Ashok Kumar wins Rolex Player of the Year in PGTI annual award

New Delhi: Caddie-turned-pro Ashok Kumar was awarded the Rolex Player of the Year for his brilliant run in the domestic season, while Arjun Atwal was honoured with the Lifetime Membership in a glittering function here.

The Professional Golf Tour of India Annual Awards 2010 presented by Rolex also honoured the six first time winners, beside honouring the other top performers like Abhishek Jha and Maniram Sharma for the 2010 Aircel-PGTI season on Sunday.

Ashok, who won four tournaments in the 2010 PGTI season, pocketed a prize money of over Rs 5 million.

"It has been a great year for me. I won four tournaments in the domestic tour and am very happy to win the Rolex player of the year. It is a very satisfying moment for me," said Ashok, who also received a Rolex custom engraved timepiece.

"I will be playing in the qualifying rounds for the 2011 Asian tour. Beside that I haven`t planned much for next season," added Ashok, who topped the Aircel Professional Golf Tour of India`s Order of Merit for 2010 with total earnings of Rs 5,394,125 for the season.

Upcoming golfer Abhishek Jha won the Aircel Emerging Player of the Year award and became richer by over Rs 1.4 million in rookie year on PGTI.

The Bangalore golfer won the award for accumulating the highest earnings among all professionals who made their debut as full card holders on the Aircel-PGTI in the 2010 season.

Maniram Sharma won the Order of Merit on the PGTI Feeder Tour and took home a prize money of Rs 2,23,884.

"The growth of professional golf in India has been phenomenal, thanks to the increasing interest in the sport, especially amongst young players," President PGTI and Chairman and CEO Gautam Thapar said.

The Rolex First Time Winners Awards were presented to Indian professionals Sujjan Singh, Chiragh Kumar, Raju Ali Mollah, Vijay Kumar, Shankar Das and Mandeo Singh Pathania.

These six professionals registered their maiden victories on the Aircel-PGTI during the 2010 season.

"2010 has been a strong season for Indian professional golf. Right on top was the historic USPGA win of Arjun Atwal and the consistent high finishes by Indian players across Asia and Europe. Manav Jaini also almost brought home the 2010 Indian Open," said Padamjit Sandhu, Director, PGTI.

"At home, on the PGTI, Ashok Kumar became the first player to win over Rs 5 million in one season, on his way to sealing the Rolex Player of the Year Award.

"Abhishek Jha claimed the Aircel Emerging Player of the Year title. In a year which has thrown up six first time winners, after nine first time winners in 2009, the depth of talent breaking through has been very encouraging," he added.

The function was also attended by ace golfer Jeev Milkha Singh, besides Avantha Group Managing Director Yogesh Shah, Rolex India and Jean Noel Rolex Sponsorships.

The 2011 season will stage 24 Order of Merit Events, 10 B-Tour Events and 5 International events with an expected total prize money of Rs 330 million.