Ahmedabad: Rahil Gangjee, fresh from resurrecting his career by earning his card once again for the Asian Tour, is raring to go one better on his 2012 performance at the Gujarat Kensville Challenge to be held from January 31 to February 3.
Gangjee, a former winner on the Asian Tour, a former India No. 1 in amateur section, struck a purple patch in the closing stages of the final round of Qualifying Tour to sink four birdies in last five holes and leapfrog to 21st and earn full playing privileges on the Asian tour this year.
The first winner of the Gujarat Kensville Challenge, Gaganjeet Bhullar, is back and all top stars of India and some former European Tour winners, too, will be seen in action.
The field also includes Rich Beem a 2002 PGA Championships winner. He will become the first Major champion to tee up at the Kensville Challenge. The field will be 120 players, from almost 25 nationalities around the world.
Senior India cricketer Sachin Tendulkar is expected to come during the event to see his villa at the Kensville Golf and Country Club. Other celebrities with Villas at the facility include Amitabh Bachchan and Jeev Milkha Singh.
Tendulkar will also interact with the golfers and meet youngsters, too.
"I will open my season with the Kensville Challenge, which has great memories for me from 2012. I came so close to the title that I could almost smell, before I lost in the play-off," said Gangjee, of his close brush with victory at the lovely Kensville Golf and Country Club.
"I liked the course so much and had a great time in Gujarat, from where my ancestors came. I want to finish what I left unfinished last year. Interestingly I had come to Gujarat after qualifying at the Asian Tour School last year also. So, it is a kind of a repeat, only I want to go one better," he added.
Gangjee, a winner on Asian Tour in his Rookie season in 2004, has spent last two seasons on Web.com Tour in the United States.
"It was a great experience playing in the US. Some time in future I hope to get back there to the PGA. For the present it is European Challenge Tour in Gujarat and then a lot of events in Asia and India, too," said Gangjee.
"It will be good to catch up with my friends from Indian PGTI Tour and also Shiv Kapur, who I heard has also confirmed his entry for Kensville once again."
Kapur, who was in contention at Kensville last year, has also chosen the event as his season-opener.
"It has good memories and last year it gave me a good start with a top-10 and hopefully I can go better," said Kapur, who closed 2012 with a series of top-10s and finally a win on the domestic PGTI event, which included Kensville Brand Ambassador Jeev Milkha Singh and Arjun Atwal among others.
"I have been striking the ball and playing well in practice rounds and it will nice to carry on from where I left at the end of 2012," added Kapur, who ended a seven-year title drought at the PGTI event.
"I am also looking forward to the Pearl Golf Premier League soon after the Kensville Challenge. It will be nice to play alongside some of the big international names at home. I have been playing against some of them in Europe, but to do the same at home would be nice."
About the growth of Kensville Challenge, Kapur said, "It is a great way to start the season. The event showcases all future stars of European golf and India's best get to compete against them. This year some of our future stars like Khalin Joshi, Chikkarangappa, Angad Cheema and teenager Shubhankar Sharma will also be making their pro debut here. So we will get a sneak preview of Indian golf's future, too."
The Gujarat Kensville Challenge, the only European Challenge Tour event in India, is now in its third year and is carrying a purse of 200,000 Euros. It is the only international event in India totally sponsored by a golf course.