Indian Open - a history well told

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New Delhi, Oct 9 (UNI) Ali Sher, the first local professional to win the Indian Open in 1991, earned a cheque of 24,990 dollars while this year's eighth placed finisher of the event will receive 25,100 dollars.

This shows the phenomenal progress made by the Hero Honda Indian Open Golf, the 45th edition which started here today with a total prize money tag of one million dollars.

The brain behind the Indian Open was a English man - Peter Thomson who won it thrice, in the inagural year 1964 and then in 1966 and 1974. Thomson also won the British Open five times including thrice in a row.

Jyoti Randhawa is the only other golfer to have won it thrice in 2000, 2006 and 2007. He is also the first Indian to have played the British Open thrice.

Interestingly, in its 44 years, only six Indians have won it for a total of nine times. PG Sethi claimed it in 1965 (as an amateur), Ali Sher catured it twice(1991, 93), the other winners were Feroze Ali (1998), Arjun Atwal (1999), JyotiRandhawa(thrice) and Vijay Kumar (2002).

The first local winner of the Indian open, PG (Billo) Sethi was an excellant cricketer. He played for the Services and came close to representing India. However, he was most upset at not been picked for the national side when the Commonwealth team came here in 1950-51 and 1951-52 despite being praised by the visiting team's manager George Duckworth. He then left cricket and took up golf.

Ali Sher is the only Indian to have shot a hole-in-one during the course of his title win of the Indian Open. None of the other Indian champions managed it and those who did have never won the title the same year.

Trevor Immelman, who played in 2000 Indian Open and finished third won this year's Augusta Masters (US).

In 2003 edition of the Indian Open, Amritinder Singh missed 12th ace and a Mercedes Benz on offer, when his eight-iron shot from the tee missed a hole-in-one by whisker on the fifth par-3.

Last year SSP Chowrasia finished tied second for the second time in the Indian Open. The first occasion being nine years earlier.

This time, his missed putt on the second play-off hole cost him a whopping Rs 13.38 lakhs, which was the difference between Jyoti Randhawa and his own share of equal second place with Vijay Kumar. Chowrasia had earned Rs 11.50 lakhs in the entire 2006 season in the country.

These and some other fascinating facts about Hero Honda Indian Open golf form the part of the book - Indian Open - Steeped in History - written by versatile sports writer V Krishnaswamy.

The 166-page book is a treaure trove for golf lovers.

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