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Indians vie for British Open berth

April 05, 2005 15:58 IST

Jyoti Randhawa would lead a strong group of six Indians who will vie for a place at the prestigious British Open when the 36-hole International Final Qualifying Asia begins in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

Other Indians hoping for a trip to St Andrews, the home of golf, are Jeev Milkha Singh, who missed out on a spot in 2004 losing in a play-off, Gaurav Ghei, who played at the Open in 1997, Amandeep Johl, Harmeet Kahlon and Rahil Gangjee.

A total of 31 players will battle it out for three tickets to the Open at the Saujana Golf and Country Club.

Randhawa has played in three British Opens, the last being in 2004, when he made his first cut and tied for the 27th place. He became the first Indian to play in four rounds.

Randhawa, Asia's number one in 2002 and 2004, is convinced that an Asian can win the Open in the near future.

"A few guys in Asia are certainly capable of winning anything. This year, we've had Thongchai (Jaidee) and Thaworn (Wiratchant) winning European Tour-sanctioned events and Arjun (Atwal) nearly won the Bellsouth (on the PGA Tour yesterday)," said Randhawa, currently ranked third on the Asian Tour Order of Merit.

"Five years ago, we didn't have the experience but now through the Asian Tour, we've become better players. We are certainly on par with the rest and the only thing that is perhaps lacking is a bit of consistency."

Regrading the goals he has set for himself, Randhawa said, "I know Saujana pretty well and I've gained confidence after finishing second in the Carlsberg Malaysian Open (in February).

"It's great that we have a chance to qualify in Asia. After achieving some success here, my goal now is to play in the Majors. I'm happy with my early-season form and the changes that I've made with my swing is working out well. I'm looking forward to the next two days."

The other contender Jeev Milkha Singh wanted to make up for the missed opportunities last year.

"I missed it by a whisker last year and I want to make up for that. It is always been a dream to play at the Open," Jeev said.

Jeev has had two top-10 finishes in Japan this season, besides another one in Asia.

He plays with Bryan Saltus (USA) and Australian David Gleeson; while Amandeep Johl plays with Kyi Hla Han (Myanmar) and Unho Park (Aust) and Randhawa is grouped with Scott Barr (Aust) and Peter Teravainen (US).

Rahil Gangjee will paly with Patrick Giles (Aust) and Sushi Ishigaki of Japan.

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