India's top golfer Jyoti Randhawa, ranked second on the Asian tour, has earned a chance to rub shoulders with some top golfers of the world in the May 20-23 Euro three million (Rs 15 crore) Deutsche Bank SAP Open, to be held in Hiedelberg, southern Germany.
Randhawa, who finished second to Ernie Els in the US $1.8 million Johnnie Walker classic and has had a stupendous run in the game of late, will have a chance to play with the world-renowned South African at the challenging St Leon Rot Golf Club, a statement from the sponsors said on Tuesday.
The defending champion of the prestigious tournament, won by superstar American golfer Tiger Woods on three occasions, is the continent's Ryder Cup player Padraig Harrington. This is the only event Woods has entered five years on the trot in Europe other than the British Open.
"Deutsche Bank has provided an exciting opportunity for me through this invitation. It is a great honour to be the only player from Asia participating and my thanks go to Deutsche Bank and to Rishi Narain, my manager, who assisted in the process," Randhawa said.
"This is a recognition for Asian Golf that a prestigious tournament like the Deutsche Bank SAP Open has invited Jyoti Randhawa to play in a tournament that every player in Europe vies to enter," said Kyi Hla Han, chairman of the Asian Tour's player's body, which sanctions and manages the 21-event Asian Tour.
In the last six months, Randhawa has had an impressive run following his win in Japan at the US $ 800,000 Suntory Open in September 2003. He finished second in the Hero Honda Masters at Delhi GC on the Asian Tour and followed that with a third place finish in the season ending US $ 500,000 Volvo Masters of Asia in Bangkok.
Early this year he finished second to Els in the Johnnie Walker Classic and third to Colin Montgomerie in the US $800,000 Caltex Singapore Masters.
In March, Jyoti emerged as a winner of the Asia-Pacific qualifying tournament for the British Open, which will see him make his third appearance, the most ever by an Indian golfer, when the world's premier championship tees off at Royal Troon Golf Club in Scotland from July 15 to 18.
Randhawa, who ranks second on the 2004 Asian Tour list with US $221,000 to his credit, started his season in Japan last week by making the cut at the US $800,000 Crowns tournament.
He is to play one more event in Japan before heading to China for the US $1.5 Million BMW Asian Open and then on to Germany with his brother Bunty, a former golf professional.
Randhawa's current world ranking of 90th is the highest ever achieved by an Indian golfer.