India set for IPL-inspired golf league
A team-based golf event inspired by cricket's Indian Premier League and starring a host of major winners tees off on Friday, with organisers hoping the "snappy" format will attract new fans to the sport.
British Open winner Darren Clarke and two-time major champion Angel Cabrera, are among those taking part in the Golf Premier League franchise at the Aamby Valley golf course near the western Indian city of Pune over three days.
The televised $400 000 floodlit tournament will feature eight teams of four players battling it out over three stroke play rounds of 14 holes, rather than the four rounds of 18 holes seen in most tour events.
Each team will comprise two players who have made a mark at international level, an Asian Tour star and an upcoming player, all selected at an auction held in Mumbai last month.
Former US Open winner Michael Campbell attracted the highest bid at the auction, going for $61 000 to the Shubhkamna Eagles, who have also signed up Indian professional Anirban Lahiri and Daniel Chopra of Sweden.
Cabrera was snapped up for $55 000 by the Maharashtra 59'ers, who also have tournament organiser and Indian professional Shiv Kapur on their side.
"Its short, sharp and snappy," said Kapur.
"Its a format that will attract new fans to the sport. Like Twenty20 cricket, it will be over in three hours and played late evenings after office hours."
Northern Irishman Clarke fetched $55 000 and will play for Uttarakhand Lions, a team co-owned by India's test spinner Harbhajan Singh.
"It is wonderful to be part of something new," said Clarke, who admitted he was sceptical when first told of the league.
"I was not sure this could be pulled off. But here I am, with so many fine players from across the world. And the course is absolutely superb. Such lovely views."
The Colombo 6's, the lone foreign franchise in the league, are being promoted by Sri Lanka's cricket captain Mahela Jayawardene.
Thai star Thaworn Wiratchant will play for Punjab Lancers while fellow Asian Tour professional Chapchai Nirat will turn out for Uttarakhand Lions.
Cabrera said the competition will be "tough, but fun".
"This is a modern and appealing format which is going to work well," the Argentine said.
Organisers are hoping the event will match the resounding success of cricket's Indian Premier League, which sparked similar Twenty20 ventures in Australia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.