Bombay, India: Defending champion Viraj Madappa will have an extra spring in his step when he tees-off in this week’s Faldo Series India Championship.
Twice previously, Madappa has qualified for the Faldo Series Grand Final but on both occasions he has reluctantly been forced to withdraw due to school exams.
“It’s a shame I haven’t been able to make the trip to Mission Hills in China for the final,” said the highly-rated 16-year-old, who raced to a 13-stroke success on home soil last year. “If I’m lucky enough to qualify this time, then I hope I will be able to participate.”
One of his country’s brightest golfing prospects, Madappa will be among the leading contenders in the 54-hole stroke play event at the Bombay Presidency Golf Club, the 11th leg of the 2014-15 Faldo Series Asia.
Winner of the West Bengal Junior championship at the start of October, Madappa continued his good run of form by making the cut in the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia a fortnight ago.
Among those who will be aiming to challenge Madappa for top honours at Bombay Presidency are Piyush Sangwan, Feroz Garewal, Shubham Narain and Varun Parikh.
Six-time Major champion Sir Nick Faldo, Britain’s most successful golfer, said: “It’s encouraging to see more young Indian golfers making their mark in the game.
“We’ve seen some outstanding Indian players enjoy success in the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final in recent years with Rashid Khan and Abhijit Chadha both claiming victory.
“Clearly there is tremendous golfing talent in India and I’m certain it’s only a matter of time before the country begins producing Major champions.”
The leading players at the Indian event in each of the three divisions – Under-21, Under-18 and Under-16 – will earn a trip to China for the ninth Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, an R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking event hosted by Sir Nick at Mission Hills Shenzhen next March.
Supported by The R&A, ISPS and Mission Hills and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the 2014-15 Faldo Series Asia campaign stretches over 11 months and is made up of a minimum of 20 championships.