A host of young champions are among the 74 golfers, who will set off in quest of a berth in the World Championships and other internationals as they tee up at the first leg of the US Kids Golf India Tour at the Classic Golf and Country Course.
The yardages are all age-specific, as per the international standards of the US Kids, and a unique feature as compared to many of the other competitions in younger age groups. The first leg will be held on October 6 and the second one on October 7.
The young golfers spread across 14 age groups, nine in boys and five in girls, will get as many as six events beginning this month to January 2023, as they seek to accumulate points to earn a berth into the US Kids Golf World Championships, held at the famous Pinehurst Golf Course in the United States. The golfers also play for a berth in the US Kids European Championships as some of the best courses in the UK.
The US Kids Golf World Championships has been a platform for many who have gone on to become the biggest stars in the current scene on world golf. They include World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, who once came fourth, two-time Major winners Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa, who also finished in the Top-5.
Among women, Lexi Thompson was a multiple winner in girls in US Kids Golf World Championships. And she now plays on the LPGA with great success.
From an Indian point of view, the big names that stand out include Aditi Ashok, who played the World Championships, and Kshitij Naved Kaul, who was once Tied 9th.
Of the 12 of the youngsters who qualified for the World Championships 2022 11 went to play and three finished in Top-10. Two of the players who were in Top-10 are back for this season again as they prepare for the World Championships 2023.
Prominent among them being Kabir Goyal, who was fourth in Under-7 and Arshvant Srivastava, who finished T-10 in the Under-11. Ojaswini Saraswat, who dominated the Under-8 section in India, was tied-second in Under-9 at the World meet, but she is not taking part this week.
As many as eight overall champions from 2021 in their age categories are back for the domestic competitions. Some of them have moved up in the age category and some old rivalries will also be renewed.
Rajveer Suri and Vidit Agarwal, who fought a close battle in many of Under -9 events last season, will start the battle once again in the Under-10. Rajveer took the overall championships narrowly against Vidit.
Similar is the case with Bhavesh Nirwan and Arshvant Srivastava in Category 13-14 years. The duo clashed in Under-12 last season and between them they won each of the eight legs. Bhavesh had the larger share with five wins while Arshvant won three times. However, Arshvant had the last word at the World Championships in Pinehurst, finishing Tied 10th.
Another rivalry that will be seen again is the one between Nalinaksh and Kabir Goyal. Nalinaksh was the overall champion in Under-6 in India. But his arch-rival Kabir Goyal, who won twice as against three times by Nalinaksh, went on to finish fourth in Under-7 category at the World Championships in Pinehurst. Their clash in the Under-7 category at the Classic Golf and Country Club should light up the course. The
Other prolific winners back this year are Hridaan Saraogi (Under-9), Chaitanya Pandey (Under-11) and Prince Bainsla (Under 12).
Among girls, Shambhavi Chaturvedi (now in Girls 11-12) and Mehreen Bhatia (still in Girls 13-14) are back to look for more laurels. Mehreen was unbeaten last season in the 13-14 section, while Shambhavi won six of the eight legs in Girls 9-10.
It is not just the wins that count towards qualification, but also the scores they shoot that goes into the kitty to determine the Priority status, which earns the golfers a berth at the World Championships.
And the young golfers with stars in their eyes set off for the big goal of getting to World and European Championships.