New Delhi: Golf is all set to turn shorter and snazzier as the Twenty20 version of the sport is set to make its debut with the USD 400,000 Golf Premier League, scheduled to be held at the picturesque Aamby Valley from February 8 to 10.
A brainchild of renowned golfer Shiv Kapur, the GPL will have 32 players, comprising four Major champions and a host of European, Asian and India stars, and eight franchises, with each team having four players each.
There are four category of golfers taking part in the franchise-based competition namely international star, international Indian star, Asian tour star and PGTI star.
Five franchises have been finalised so far, viz Delhi Darts, Gujarat Underdawgs, Colombo Sixers, Shubhkamna Eagles and Tamil Nadu Pulis. Colombo Sixers is owned by Sri Lankan cricketer Mahela Jayawardene, also a keen golfer.
The event, co-founded by Neeraj Saran ? a former amateur golfer, will be played on a stroke-play-cum-best-ball format over three days with approximately three hours of play each day and it will be telecasted live on television on prime time.
"I have been a big fan of the IPL and so I decided to try something similar in golf. So the format has been influenced from different club competitions like NFL, NBA and IPL. It is a unique concept and will be an annual affair. We are starting with a three-year contract," Shiv told reporters here.
"IPL made cricket sexy and cool and we are trying something similar in golf. With 30 second time slot to hit a ball, it will make golf more faster. It is also unique as it will have day night rounds of strokeplay, which is a first in professional golf in Asia. We have also reduced the number of golfs from 18 to 14," he added.
Explaining the format further, Shiv said: "Each team will have one player drawn from each pool of Internationals, Indian internationals, Asian tour stars and PGTI stars. There will a cap of USD 150,000 for each franchise and the auction will be held soon. The winners cheque will be USD 250,000."
International Legends: Angel Cabrera (US Open in 2007 and Masters in 2009), Darren Clarke (2011 British Open winner), Michael Campbell (US Open in 2005), Rich Beem (PGA Championships in 2002), Johan Edfors, a multiple winner on European Tour, and David Howell, the winner of the inaugural WGC-HSBC Champions.
International Indians: Four-time Asian tour winner, Gaganjeet Bhullar, former Volvo Masters of Asia champion, Shiv Kapur, two-time PGA Tour winner Daniel Chopra of Swedish-Indian parentage, Anirban Lahiri and Himmat Rai, also an Asian Tour winner in 2011 and Chiragh Kumar, the 2011 Order of Merit winner on Indian PGTI Tour.
Asian Superstars: Thaworn Wiratchant, the 2012 winner of the Asian Tour Order of Merit and holder of the record for most Asian Tour titles, and Chapchai Nirat, who holds the world record for the lowest four-round total of 32-under recorded in India a few years ago, will lead the starcast from the Asian Tour.
The top eight available stars from the Order of Merit, as at the end of the 2012 season, will be eligible. Also confirming their participation are Australian Scott Hend, winner of the `Long Drive` statistic on PGA Tour in 2005, and two-time Asian Tour winner, Jason Knutzon.
Indian Stars: The top PGTI professionals, who have been confirmed include Shamim Khan and Rashid Khan, the No. 1 and 2, from the PGTI Order of Merit for 2012, besides three-time Asian Tour winner, the seasoned Gaurav Ghei.
Former PGTI Tour Order of Merit winner, Ashok Kumar, and multiple winner on PGTI Tour, Sri Lanka`s Mithun Perera, have also confirmed their participation.
Interestingly, the field includes the last three PGTI Order of Merit winners -? Ashok Kumar (2010), Chiragh Kumar (2011) and Shamim Khan (2012).