Chandigarh: India`s most impressive amateur in recent years, Seenappa Chikkarangappa begins his quest for the first hat-trick in more than 80 years when he starts as a strong favourite to retain his All India Amateur Championships title from Wednesday.
Chikka, who is leading the IGU’s Order of Merit, is going for the first hat-trick since 1930, when E L Watts, completed his fourth successive win.
Since then no player has won the All India Amateur Championships three times in a row.
At the Indian Golf Union`s flagship event, the International challenge will include four teams from outside India.
The strongest will be from England, to be represented by Jack Colegate and Curtis Griffiths, who are both members of the England A Squad.
Other foreign teams include Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, whose players have won the title in the past. Bhutan has also sent a strong contingent.
One of the oldest amateur championships in the world, the All India Amateur Championship started in 1892 and is run by the Indian Golf Union.
It has a 36-hole stroke play qualifying competition over the first two days from which the leading 32 players proceed to the match play knockout event.
Chikkarangappa, currently No.1 on the Indian Amateur Tour Circuit, said, "I am happy to come back to the Chandigarh Golf Club once again and hopeful to win the All India title third time in a row."
Last year in Bangalore, Chikka, considered one of the brightest prospects in Indian golf, retained the title he won in 2010, beating fellow Bangalorean Pritam Haridas in the final.
When Chikka won the title in 2010 at 17, he was the youngest ever winner of the All India Amateurs.
With Indian amateurs showing great promise over the last 18 months, the tournament will bring to the fore the strength of Indian amateur golf.
In 2011, Chikka, after winning the All India title in his hometown in February, also won the Inter-State, Southern India and Western India titles, besides losing in the final of Goodricke East India.
But Chikka will not have it easy and will be a given a run for his money by the likes of Honey Baisoya, who stunned Chikka in the final of Goodricke East India Matchplay. Baisoya was also second at the Northern India.
Another Bangalore lad, Khalin Joshi has also been in good form, finishing second to Chikka at both Southern and Western India championships.
He would be hoping to have his revenge on the biggest stage of Indian amateur golf.
Among the others, who could upset the form book are Angad Cheema, who topped the RCGC Cup, the experienced Manav Das, seasoned Gagan Verma and the dangerous Udayan Mane, winner of the Maharashtra Open and semi-finalist at 2011 All India Amateurs.
Among the dark horses will be Ashbeer Saini, semifinalist at the Northern India, Sidharth Semwal, runner-up at the Maharashtra Open, and the young Trishul Chinappa, also of Bangalore.
England last sent a team six years ago, and before that in 2004 England’s James Smith reached the semi-finals.
The only English winner of the title has been former England captain Malcolm Lewis, who triumphed at Calcutta in 1981.