Bengaluru, India: Kartik Sharma and Diksha Dagar will be bidding to pull off a unique feat at this week’s Faldo Series India Championship.
Not only are Sharma and Dagar distinguishable as two of India’s most promising young golfing prospects, but they’re also easily recognisable on the course.
For the talented duo are among the less than 10 per cent of the world’s golfing population that play the game left-handed.
Not that it’s been a handicap to either in their respective rise through the ranks, as they’ll once more aim to prove in the 15th leg of the 2017-18 Faldo Series Asia season at the Karnataka Golf Association, one of India’s top-ranked courses, located in the heart of Bengaluru.
Third in the Boys’ Under-16 category at last year’s Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, Sharma, the reigning Eastern India Juniors champion, has soared to 486th in The R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) for men.
Meanwhile, Dagar, a two-time Faldo Series Asia Grand Final participant, won the silver medal at the 2017 Summer Deaflympics in Turkey to go with three victories in Indian Golf Union (IGU) events in the past 12 months. She has climbed to 417th in the WAGR for women and is the second highest rated Indian female golfer.
The immediate target for both is to secure starting places at the 12th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, to be hosted by Sir Nick Faldo at Laguna Lăng Cô in Danang, Central Vietnam, in early March.
Six-time Major champion Faldo, Britain’s most successful golfer, said: “In all the years that we’ve been going with the Faldo Series around the world, we’ve only had a handful of left-handed winners.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had boys and girls left-handed winners from the same country. So I’ll be watching closely to see if Kartik and Diksha can create what would be a notable first for the Faldo Series.”
Among those hoping to strike a blow for the right-handers are Jay Pandya, runner up in last year’s Amateur Golf Championship of India, and Pranavi Urs, the best-placed amateur at the 2017 Hero Women’s Indian Open.
In recent years, separate Faldo Series India Championships have been staged for boys and girls. But this year organisers are reverting to one event which will feature players from the top-10 of their respective categories in the IGU’s 2017 Order of Merit.
To further encourage participation, a series of qualifiers were held across seven cities in the country with one winner from each category progressing to the Faldo Series India Championship.
Over the four days in Bengaluru, interactive seminars are being organised for the golfers by a leading sports psychologist and fitness expert, as well as a rules clinic.
“It promises to be an excellent week at the Karnataka Golf Association. My thanks to the Indian Golf Union, the tournament organisers and players and all those who have made this possible,” said Faldo.
The event is being supported by the corporate social responsibility initiative of IIFL Wealth Management, India’s biggest wealth management company.
The 2017-18 Faldo Series Asia season is supported by The R&A and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation. The International Junior Golf Academy is a partner of the Faldo Series.
As well as two events in China and Thailand, championships are staged in Australia, Bangladesh, Chinese-Taipei, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.