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Indian golfers mount a strong challenge at Avantha Masters

New Delhi: The region`s elite golfers,
spearheaded by a very strong Indian challenge, will be eager
to get their 2011 Asian Tour season off to a flying start when
they tee up at the co-sanctioned Avantha Masters next week.

The event is co-sanctioned with the European Tour.

The Euros 1.8 million (approx USD 2.3 million) showpiece
will be staged from February 17 to 20, 2011 at the DLF Golf
and Country Club.

The Avantha Masters is the biggest professional event in
India. Started last year with a purse of Euros 1.5 million, it
has increased the purse by 20 per cent this year adding to
thee excitement.

Defending the title will be Andrew Dodt of Australia.

The local brigade will be spearheaded by Asian Tour
honorary member and two-time Order of Merit winner Jeev Milkha
Singh, who will be hoping to bounce back after a dismal 2010
season plagued by injuries.

"I just want to prepare myself to be injury-free in 2011.
Becoming fit, and keeping that way, is definitely my priority
number one. And if I can manage to do that, I think I will be
able to achieve all my other ambitions.”

"2010 was a stop-and-start one and I had absolutely no
momentum. Just when I thought I was getting back into the
swing of things, I got injured again. It was extremely
frustrating," Singh wrote in his blog.

All eyes will also be on Gaganjeet Bhullar who got his
pre-season preparations off to the best possible start when he
won three titles in a row and then had another top-10 last

"I am currently on a winning streak there is a lot of
positive energy around me and that helps me come through even
in tough situations. This is the second hat-trick of titles in
my career and it has given me the much-needed momentum ahead
of a long and gruelling season," said Bhullar to the media
following his third successive domestic win last week.

Indian stars primed for the event also include Rahil
Gangjee, who recently qualified for the Nationwide. Gangjee
last year had a share of the lead coming into the final round,
but faltered on the last day.

Jyoti Randhawa, a five-time winner of Asian Tour events
in India, will be hoping to turn his form around and there is
Shiv Kapur, who had an excellent outing at the Hero Honda
Indian Open in December.

SSP Chowrasia, winner of the Indian Masters the
first-ever event in India to be co-sanctioned by the Asian and
European Tours in 2008, is also looking to change his fortunes

Anirban Lahiri and Himmat Rai, two other talented
youngsters will also be raring to go. India`s latest entrant
into pro ranks, Rashid Khan, will be hoping to add to his
amateur reputation which includes an Asian Games team silver

Meanwhile, much will be expected from three-time Asian
Tour Order of Merit winner, Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand who
currently holds the record of having the most Asian Tour wins
with 13 victories.

The Thai intends to keep up his winning ways but knows
that he must start putting more consistently to stay in
contention weekly.

"I hope to improve my putting as it is crucial to scoring
low. It was not very steady last year and I have been working
very hard lately to get myself prepared. I have also been
working hard in the gym, hoping to hit the ball a bit longer
too," said Thongchai.

Other stars poised to spearhead the strong Asian
challenge at the tri-sanctioned event between the Asian Tour,
European Tour and Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI)
include Singapore`s Mardan Mamat, Japan`s Tetsuji Hiratsuka
and 2010 Asian Tour rookie of the year, Rikard Karlberg of
Sweden who have won seven Asian Tour titles between them.


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