India to have its first franchise-based Golf Premier League

Shiv Kapur

Following the success of Indian Premier League (IPL), which is now in its sixth year, India is now set to have a franchise-based Golf Premier League (GPL).

Devised by local player Shiv Kapur, the new tournament comprises of eight teams of four players, all hired in an auction system, in a shortened format at the picturesque Aamby Valley golf course near Pune from Feb. 8-10.

Some of the well-known names in this tournament this year include two-time major winner Angel Cabrera, British Open winner Darren Clarke and 2005 U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell. During the player auction, Campbell attracted the highest bid of $61,000 with Clarke and Cabrera getting bids of $55,000 each to sign for their respective clubs. Among the other big names in the tournament will be 2002 PGA champion Rich Beem, 2003 PGA champion Shaun Micheel and 2012 Asian Tour leader Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand.

The 30-year-old Kapur, who played amateur golf at Purdue University, raised the idea of a golf league with a friend two years ago and the two co-founders of the league worked on a concept targeting a new audience in India, where cricket rules the sports landscape.

"The format is attractive for the non-core golf lover. Like in cricket, test matches are for purists, but Twenty20 cricket has a larger audience because it is played at night, at a faster pace and also has a glamor element to it," said Kapur, who turned professional in 2004 and won the Asian Tour's 2005 Masters of Asia.

Kapur is confident the GPL format will allow players to attack the course, without compromise on the quality of golf. "We're wrapping up in three hours each day over 14 holes," he told AP. "But let me add that it will not trivialize the game since it is not a 6-7 hole 'Mickey Mouse' golf tournament.''

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