Greater Noida, India: Groomed for golfing glory from a young age, Hunar Mittal upstaged newly-crowned national champion Sneha Singh en route to victory in the weather-hit IIFL Faldo Series India Championship.
With heavy rain and strong winds forcing the opening round to be reduced to nine holes at Jaypee Greens, the 12th event of the 2019-20 Faldo Series Asia season was decided over 45 holes.
But that was sufficient for 15-year-old Mittal to underscore her potential, a skilfully collated closing one-under-par 71 giving her an aggregate of 182 – a tally that was matched by Milind Soni.
However, victory was awarded to Mittal on a countback by dint of the fact that her final round score bettered Soni’s return by two strokes in the event that was sanctioned by the Indian Golf Union (IGU).
It was a notable triumph for Mittal, who started playing golf at the age of five at the Chandigarh Golf Association Range and went on to become the top ranked golfer in the under-nine category in the IGU Feeder Tour in 2014. In 2016, she won the US Kids Golf Tournament in Venice, Italy.
At Jaypee Greens, Mittal, currently ranked seventh in the IGU Junior Tour rankings, had the satisfaction of claiming the prized scalp of Sneha Singh, female champion at last month’s All India Championship.
Struggling to come to terms with the breezy conditions, Singh ended 11 shots behind Mittal, whom she had beaten into second place at last year’s Northern India Ladies & Girls tournament. Singh had won four of the previous five events in which she’d competed, rising to 320th in The R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking.
There was a more palatable outcome for 18-year-old Aryan Roopa Anand, winner of the men’s All India Championship. Although not at his sharpest, Anand’s 45-hole aggregate of 186 meant he topped the standings in the Boys’ Under-18 segment.
As such, he’s earned himself a return trip to the 14th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final to be hosted by six-time Major champion Sir Nick Faldo at Vietnam’s award-winning Laguna Lăng Cô from March 4-6.
During 2019, Bangalore-based Anand, who took up the game when aged eight, won the Singapore Junior Championship and the Gujarat Amateur and placed joint fifth in the Under-18 age group at the 13th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final.
Joining Anand, Mittal and Soni (Boys’ Under-16 winner) in Vietnam this year will be Yuvraj Singh (Boys’ Under-21 winner) and Smriti Bhargav (Girls’ Under-21 winner).
The 2019-20 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.