Pune: Innovation, excitement and, of course, a dash of golf characterised the launch of the inaugural Pearls Golf Premier League in Pune on Thursday, as skydivers displayed their pyrotechnics to leave the audience in thrall.
The internationally renowned divers were in the element from the word go as each of them, wearing winged suites and representing the eight franchises competing in the tournament, descended on the Aamby Valley City golf course from a height of more than 5000 feet.
Ahead of the first day/night golf event in the world, the players seemed excited, and so were the organisers and spectators.
"Something like this is happening for the first time in golf, not just in India but even across the world, nothing of this sort has happened in the sport," said Rahil Gangjee, representing the Nippon Kenwood Delhi Darts.
Besides Gangjee, the team also features Sweden's Johan Edfors, Australian Scott Barr and young Ajeetesh Sandhu from India.
The USD 400,000 tournament comprises of eight franchise teams with four players each. All teams consist of one international professional golfer, one Indian international professional golfer, one Asian Tour professional golfer and one professional golfer from the Professional Golf Tour of India.
The four days' play will include two day and night rounds of 14-hole stroke-play. The teams' performance will be calculated on the basis of the cumulative score of all four players over two rounds.
The final and semi-final round will be played between the top four teams.
The brainchild of well-known Indian golfer Shiv Kapur, the event is intended to bring in the masses to the sport, and give young talents a chance to rub shoulders with the established ones.
Some of the well-known names in the tournament this year include two-time major winner Angel Cabrera, British Open winner Darren Clarke and 2005 US Open champion Michael Campbell.
The winners will be richer by USD 200,000, while the runner-up team will take home USD 100,000. USD 60,000 will be awarded to the third placed team, with USD 40,000 reserved for the team that finishes fourth.
Four-time Asian tour winner, Gaganjeet Bhullar, who is also one of the most expensive Indian International player from the auction said, "Playing on a completely new format and alongside some of the top names and top International players will bring in a new excitement. I am looking forward to the league, which will not only engage the talent from around the country but will also generate further interest towards golf as a sport."
Bhullar is representing Wital See Punjab Lancers alongside David Howell, Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand and Rashid Khan.
The other teams competing in the tournament are Shubhkamna UP Eagles, Maharashtra 59ers, which has Kapur in their ranks, Sri Lanka cricket legend Mahela Jayawardene-owned Colombo 6's, Gujarat Underdawgs, Utharakhand Lions and Tamil Nadu Pullees.
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