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Vijay Singh calls for more courses to continue Indian golf's upswing

Vijay Singh calls for more courses to continue Indian golf's upswing

India must build more public golf courses if the potential of the sport and local players is to be realized, three-time Major winner Vijay Singh said Wednesday ahead of the Johnnie Walker Classic.
Singh, whose forefathers migrated from India to Fiji, is among the star attractions at the $2.5 million (euro1.68 million) tournament, which starts Thursday.
He acknowledged the progress golf is making in India, as shown by the hosting of such tournaments and growing public interest, but said the nation needed to improve infrastructure.
"Indian golf is doing quite well, but the country needs a lot more courses," said Singh. "You just do not have enough golf courses for the people you have playing golf. And you've got to have academies where young kids can go and learn how to play."
The Johnnie Walker Classic _ jointly sanctioned by the European and Asian tours _ will be played at the DLF Golf and Country Club on the outskirts of the capital New Delhi.
It is the second European Tour event being played in India inside three weeks, underscoring the country's growing appetite for top-level golf.
"It's good for golf, you need more tournaments like this to actually give an opportunity for the young golfers to see how golf really is and who you have to play against to make a living," said Singh.
"We need to get more tournaments over here in India, so they can see what golf is all about."
Singh last played in India four years ago, on the same course that will stage the Johnnie Walker Classic, where the field includes Australian Adam Scott, Scotland's Colin Montgomerie, Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez and defending champion Anton Haig of South Africa.
"There are quite a few golfers Indian golfers that are pretty good and a lot more young professionals, that's a change since I last came here," said Singh.
"I've played with guys who mentioned Indian players like Jeev (Milkha Singh), Arjun (Atwal) and Jyoti (Randhawa), I've seen them briefly on the Asian Tour events that I've played in."
Indian Shiv Chowrasia won the European Tour event in New Delhi earlier this month, but Singh said more must be done to create a larger player pool.
"You need a lot more golf courses, and not just private courses. You need courses where normal guys go out and play ... pay and play if he wants to," said Singh.
Most Indian courses are attached to clubs whose membership is difficult to get. There is a trend toward the marketing of residential property attached to courses. There is just one public course in the entire country, in New Delhi.
Montgomerie too was impressed with the emergence of Indian golfers.
"They have more opportunity now and they're working hard at it to see the rewards available to them," said Montgomerie.
"My Pro-Am partner was telling me there's one school in New Delhi where thousands of kids want to play golf, but we don't have the golf courses to fit in all of them," Montgomerie said.
Both Singh and Montgomerie, an eight-time European Tour Order of Merit champion, will be switching from the team format of last week's World Golf Championship when they turn out Thursday.


Updated : 2021-02-27 00:45 GMT+08:00