Indian Masters postponed over security and economic concerns


Next season’s Indian Masters has been postponed over economic and security concerns. Co-sanctioned by the European Tour, the Asian Tour and the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI), the event was set to be played at the Delhi Golf Club from February 5-8. 

Mohamed Juma Buamaim, Vice Chairman and CEO of ‘golf in Dubai’, said: “We have done everything possible to ensure that the second edition of the Indian Masters was played in 2009 but with this tournament we considered that the current economic uncertainty coupled to security concerns made it impossible for us to present the tournament in the manner that we would wish to for world class golfers.
“The inaugural edition of the Indian Masters played earlier this year created quite a buzz in India with the home-grown talent SSP Chowrasia beating a strong field to take the honours. The tournament, the first on The European Tour to be played in India, provided the home players an opportunity to hone their competitive skills in the company of some of the world’s finest players and we are confident that we will achieve this again in 2010.
“We are grateful to the Indian Golf Union, the PGTI and The Asian Tour for extending all their support in putting together the inaugural Indian Masters and we thank them for their patience, support and understanding as we do to the Delhi Golf Club to where we look forward to returning.”
At least 200 people were killed and more than 327 injured in terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November.

George O’Grady, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “We share with ‘golf in Dubai’ their disappointment that the Indian Masters will not be played in 2009. We understand, however, the economic challenges they face with title sponsorship and we are optimistic that this event which was such a success when first played in 2008 at the superb Delhi Golf Club will return to the schedule in 2010 co-sanctioned by The European Tour, the Asian Tour and the PGTI.”

Last season, Ireland’s Damien McGrane finished second to Chowrasia, who created history by winning the first-ever European Tour event in India, which boasted a prize fund of $2.5 million.
EMAAR-MGF had already cancelled plans to sponsor the Indian Ladies Masters in Bangalore in December.

EMAAR, who have also been awarded the contract to build the troubled and controversy-ridden Commonwealth Games Village, have had to face the brunt of the economic crisis. Earlier this year, the company was forced to scrap its initial public offer (IPO).
The EMAAR-MGF Indian Masters, which had faced a lot of controversy even before its start, is co-sanctioned by the Asian, the European and Indian Tours. The European Tour had initially planned to go ahead with the tournament without the Asian Tour. And when top Indian professionals threatened to boycott the event, a compromise was reached and the event was then co-sanctioned by European, Asian and Professional Golfer's Tour of India (PGTI).
Both European Tour and 'golf in DUBAI' did make attempts to find a new sponsor, but were unable to find one due to the global economic crisis.
After the initial hiccups, the Indian Masters at the Delhi Golf Club in February was a huge success and saw the participation of top European golfers like Ernie Els, David Howell and Phillip Price.
Chowrasia won $416,660, which was the biggest pay cheque received by any player on Indian soil. The event also witnessed three Indians among the top-5. Digvijay Singh finished fourth, winning $115,500 and Gaurav Ghei finished tied sixth and picked up $66,200.
The EMAAR-MGF Indian Ladies Masters was the penultimate event of the 2008 Ladies European Tour (LET) calendar. LET's Executive Director, Alexandra Armas, had however said that every effort was being made to reinstate the tournament in 2009.