x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

British Open winner Darren Clarke among stars to participate in IPL-style golf tournament in India

Harbhajan Singh and Mahela Jayawardene are among cricketers to own teams competing in the Golf Premier League.

Darren Clarke was initially circumspect about taking part in the Gof Premier League. Action Images / Paul Childs
Darren Clarke was initially circumspect about taking part in the Gof Premier League. Action Images / Paul Childs

NEW DELHI // A team-based golf event inspired by cricket's Indian Premier League and starring a host of major winners tees off today, with organisers hoping the "snappy" format will attract new fans to the sport.

Darren Clarke, a British Open winner, and the two-time major champion Angel Cabrera are among those taking part in the Golf Premier League franchise at the Aamby Valley golf course near the western Indian city of Pune over three days.

The televised US$400,000 (Dh1.47 million) floodlit tournament will feature eight teams of four players battling it out over three strokeplay rounds of 14 holes, rather than the four rounds of 18 holes seen in most tour tournaments.

Each team will comprise two players who have made a mark at international level, an Asian Tour star and an upcoming player, all selected at an auction held in Mumbai last month.

The former US Open winner Michael Campbell attracted the highest bid at the auction, going for $61,000 to the Shubhkamna Eagles, who have also signed the India's Anirban Lahiri and Daniel Chopra of Sweden. Cabrera was bought for $55,000 by the Maharashtra 59ers, who also have the Indian professional Shiv Kapur on their side.

"It's short, sharp and snappy," said Kapur. "It's a format that will attract new fans to the sport. Like Twenty20 cricket, it will be over in three hours and played late evenings after office hours."

Northern Ireland's Clarke cost $55,000 and will play for Uttarakhand Lions, a team co-owned by the India Test cricketer Harbhajan Singh.

"It is wonderful to be part of something new," said Clarke, who said he was sceptical when first told of the league. "I was not sure this could be pulled off. But here I am, with so many fine players from across the world."

Colombo, the lone foreign franchise in the league, are being promoted by Sri Lanka's cricket captain Mahela Jayawardene.

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