The new year is always a time of hope and optimism. In keeping with that spirit, here at India Golf Weekly we have put together our wish list for Indian golf, and the sport in general, for 2023.
Rory McIlroy wins the Masters and completes the career Grand Slam
Winning a major is hard. Winning all four of them in a career is even harder. Only five male golfers have ever done that since The Masters was created in 1934 – Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Gary Player, Ben Hogan, and Gene Sarazen. Arnold Palmer couldn’t do it; neither could Tom Watson or Lee Trevino. Across the pond, Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros managed to win only two of the four. In fact, no European golfer has ever completed the career grand slam, which would give McIlroy another feather in his cap if he can complete it.
It’s been over a decade since McIlroy collapsed on the back nine at Augusta. It has also been eight years since he won any of the Majors. But he is once again the No. 1 golfer in the world and has arguably become the voice of the sport, especially in the PGA Tour’s battle with the Saudi-promoted LIV Golf Tour.
Winning the Masters would cement his place in the game’s history and raise his stature within the sport even further. At India Golf Weekly, we think that’s no more than he deserves.
Aditi Ashok bounces back from a poor 2022
Ashok had a tough 2022, failing to finish in the top-10 even once on the LPGA tour. It was an especially disappointing season given how close she came to winning an Olympic medal in Tokyo in September 2021, when she led the field on the final day. Still, she’s been around so long, it’s easy to forget that Ashok is still only 24 and most of her career remains ahead of her. Here at IGW we would like nothing more than for her to have a bounce-back year in 2023 and maybe, just maybe, pick up her first win on the LPGA Tour.
The PGA Tour and LIV Golf declare a truce
The launch of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Tour rocked the sport like nothing else has in recent times. The PGA Tour was dead against the new “world” tour and their dispute forced everyone in the sport to take sides – tours, players, sponsors and TV networks all had to pick one or the other. Even the major tournaments find themselves in the crosshairs, though so far they have walked a fine line between the two.
Still, the PGA Tour couldn’t stop some of its stars from leaving, most notably Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, and Cameron Smith, giving the new tour some cache and ensuring that it got off the ground. That led to much finger pointing and some harsh comments made on both sides, causing a deep split within the sport.
However, the history of competing tours or leagues in the United States suggests that eventually the rivals must come together and work out a solution. Hopefully, that happens in 2023 and the sport doesn’t have to go through another year of recriminations, accusations and counter-accusations that takes the focus of the golf being played.
An Indian pro wins on the DP World Tour
Last year Gaganjeet Bhullar ended India’s four-year drought on the Asian Tour when he won the Mandiri Indonesian Open in August. But India’s drought on the DP World Tour continues. The last Indian pro to win on what was then called the European Tour was Bhullar in August 2018.
Two Indian pros have playing rights on tour. Shubhankar Sharma retained his card by finishing 29th in the Race to Dubai while Manu Gandas, who topped the PGTI rankings, earned category 16 playing rights as part of a new arrangement between the PGTI, the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour.
Hopefully one of them will end that drought with a victory in 2023.
The successful return of the Indian Open
The Indian Open, India’s most prestigious golf event, hasn’t been held since 2019 because of the Covid pandemic. This year it is back on the DP World Tour schedule and slated for the last week of February.
However, it will not be co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour this year as the Asian Tour has tied up with the Saudis. Instead, it will be a PGTI and DP World Tour sanctioned event but it is not yet clear how many spots will go to Indians. It will also offer prize money of two million dollars, the largest purse ever at a professional golf tournament in India.
We look forward to the successful hosting of the tournament, which is long overdue. The cherry on top will be if an Indian pro takes home the title.
Photo – Golf Digest