Mumbai, India (October 14): Friendship will take a back seat when international team-mates Diksha Dagar and Tvesa Malik lock horns in the 2016 Faldo Series India Girls’ Championship.
A month after joining forces to fly the flag for India at the 27th Women's World Amateur Team Championships in Mexico, Dagar and Malik will be aiming to outwit each other in the 12th leg of the record-breaking 2016-17 Faldo Series Asia season.
It promises to be a fascinating contest at the Bombay Presidency Golf Club with Malik determined to atone for a final-round slip-up last year that enabled left-handed Dagar to claim a surprise Faldo Series India Girls’ Championship triumph in 2015.
Malik appeared to be running away to victory after setting a hot pace with returns of 73 and 74. But a mid-round stumble on the final day, when she dropped five shots in three holes, saw her lose her momentum – and the lead – as she signed off with an 82.
That left the path clear for Dagar who closed with a 73 to clinch the title at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club and move ahead of Malik in the R&A’s World Amateur Golf Ranking.
A year on and both girls have firmly established themselves in the Indian national squad and will be keen to add further silverware to their trophy cabinets in the 54-hole stroke play event.
Currently, Dagar tops the Indian Golf Union’s Ladies Order of Merit with Malik hot on her heels in second spot.
Extra incentive for Dagar and Malik is the opportunity to qualify for the 11th Faldo Series Asia Grand to be hosted by Sir Nick Faldo at Laguna Lăng Cô in Danang, Central Vietnam, in March, 2017.
Having flattered to deceive at China’s Mission Hills in the 10th anniversary Grand Final, both would relish the chance to underline their improvement against the region’s leading amateurs.
While Malik is gunning to top the standings in the Girls’ Under-21 category for the third year in succession, Gaurika Bishnoi will be conspicuous by her absence.
Bishnoi, the 2014 Faldo Series India Girls’ Championship winner and the third member of India’s Women’s World Amateur Team Championship line-up, has joined the ranks of the professionals.
Among those expected to contend are Sifat Sagoo, runner-up to Dagar in both the Under-16 Division and overall last year, and fellow national squad member Amrita Anand.
For the second year running, the Indian Golf Union is staging separate Faldo Series India qualifiers for boys and girls.
Six-time Major champion Faldo, Britain’s most successful golfer, said: “I congratulate the Indian Golf Union for its foresight in becoming the first country on the Faldo Series Asia schedule to stage separate qualifiers for boys and girls. It illustrates the growing strength in depth in junior golf in India.”
Supported by The R&A and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the 2016-17 Faldo Series Asia campaign stretches over 11 months.
As well as two events in China, India and Thailand, championships will be staged in Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chinese-Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.
Recognised as the only global amateur series for boys and girls, the Faldo Series was established in 1996, expanding to Asia in 2006.
Today, 40 Faldo Series tournaments take place in 30-plus countries worldwide, touching more than 7,000 golfers each year. Past winners include Tseng Ya-ni and Rory McIlroy, both multiple Major winners.