Serena Williams set for 1st-round match at Indian Wells

first_imgPussycat Dolls set for reunion tour after 10-year hiatus Typhoon ‘Tisoy’ threatens Games LATEST STORIES Read Next Two-time winner Maria Sharapova returns to the desert for the first time in three years. She plays Naomi Osaka of Japan on Wednesday. Google honors food scientist, banana ketchup inventor and war hero Maria Orosa John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university PLAY LIST 01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City LOOK: Iya Villania meets ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ cast in Mexico Paul stars as Rockets top Thunder for 16th straight wincenter_img View comments Serena Williams of the United States reacts as a call goes against her and to opponent Zhang Shuai of China during the Tie Break Tens tournament at Madison Square Garden, Monday, March 5, 2018 in New York. Zhang defeated Williams to advance to the final round in the tournament but was defeated by Elina Svitolina. The Tie Break Tens’ New York event is a one-day day exhibition tournament featuring eight female players competing for a $250,000 winner’s prize. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Serena Williams makes her return to the pro tour after a 14-month absence with a first-round match at the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday.She will play Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan in a night match at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Families in US enclave in north Mexico hold sad Thanksgiving Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Williams has played just one Fed Cup doubles match while away from the WTA Tour. The former world No. 1 is unseeded and as a result did not receive a first-round bye.The new mother, who gave birth in September, will try to become the first woman to win three singles titles in the desert. Her other titles came in 1999 and 2001 before she boycotted the event for several years.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutWilliams, a winner of 23 Grand Slam titles, is in the same quarter of the draw as older sister Venus. The siblings could potentially face each other in the third round.Also set to play Thursday night is another new mom, Victoria Azarenka, a two-time tourney winner who got into the main draw with a wild card.last_img read more

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Wrong choices, neglect make professionals shy away from Royal Calcutta Golf Club

first_imgThe Royal is below par today because of bad luck and bad decisionsIt should have been like old times. When two of India’s top golfers, Arjun Atwal and Smriti Mehra, returned home on a winter break in January they planned to meet up and play a few rounds on their,The Royal is below par today because of bad luck and bad decisionsIt should have been like old times. When two of India’s top golfers, Arjun Atwal and Smriti Mehra, returned home on a winter break in January they planned to meet up and play a few rounds on their home course, the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC). On the appointed day, when they arrived at the club, they were shocked.As Mehra, India’s only professional female golfer, put it: “The game was a disaster. The course was in such a terrible shape, we just wanted to get off it. There was so much sand, it was like walking on a beach.” Atwal and Mehra left after playing seven holes. Two days later, Atwal who now plays on the European tour packed his bags and left for Delhi.”Arjun realised there was just no way he could improve his game at Royal, so he decided to shift,” says brother Govind. The RCGC is not just any other golf club: established in 1829, it is the historical home of Indian golf. In fact the RCGC is recognised as the second oldest golf club in the world, after the legendary St Andrews in Scotland.Some of India’s best golfers consider the RCGC their sporting home. Instead of cashing in on the ongoing boom in Indian golf and promoting itself as the alma mater of top Indian players, the RCGC and its shabby grounds are in danger of becoming an embarrassing relic from the past.advertisementBANNED”There was so much sand the last time I played there that it was like walking on a beach.”Smriti Mehra, India’s only female professional golferMehra made a prediction. “It’s sad, Kolkata will never produce another world-class player,” she said to a local daily and was banned from the grounds by the club managing committee. Today, members of the venerable “Royal” are still not sure which side of the fence they’re on.Many agree with Mehra, but prefer not to stick their necks out. Others are willing to make allowances for the poor shape of the greens. “We have had some problems, it’s true,” says former RCGC captain Lakshman Singh. “But the course has never played better.” When professional Indian golf grew in the last decade, Royal could have been on top of the heap of Indian courses. But that never happened.This despite the fact that the club had everything on its side: heritage and heroes. The RCGC has produced an exceptional assembly line of top Indian pros: Atwal and Mehra, Asiancircuit regulars like Indrajit Bhalotia, Uttam Singh Mundy, Indian Tour pros Basad Ali, S.S.P. Chowrasia, Firoz Ali, his brother Rafiq Ali, and old timer caddy-turned-pro and Arjuna Award winner Jamshed Ali. “In 1990-91, 10 of the top Indian pros came from Royal,” says a golfer. “Last year, there were only three.”RCGC, it appears, is losing out to newer contenders – not just in terms of who plays on its course but what is played on the old links. This year’s Royal Challenge Indian Open winner Vijay Kumar honed his skills in Lucknow.Clubs like the Delhi Golf Club, DLF and Classic Golf Resort, Noida’s Jaypee Greens, Golden Greens in Gurgaon, courses in Chandigarh and Bangalore with their top-class maintenance plans and state-of-the-art technology, seem to have replaced the hallowed grounds of the Royal on the list of pro golfers’ favourite courses.Almost symbolically, the RCGC has not even been able to hold onto the Indian Open, the country’s oldest traditional professional tournament, shared between Delhi and Kolkata since 1964. The RCGC hosted the Indian Open 20 times between then and now. Under the sponsorship of Shaw Wallace, the Open has now moved to the Delhi Golf Club for the next three years.The Royal is below par today because of bad luck and bad decisions. The course could have got by with minimum maintenance but in 1997 the authorities chose to remodel it following a design set down by Australian course designer Peter Thompson, an Indian Open winner in 1964 and 1966.FUN DFETTERED”When the RCGC decided to hike the membership fees, the proposal was shouted down.”Neeraj Bhalla, CEO, Royal Calcutta Golf Club”That was the first mistake, forcing the course into a supposedly more challenging shape,” says Brandon D’Souza of Tiger Sports Marketing. “They followed the design so blindly, they ended up ruining many of the holes.” Bhalotia says, “If the idea was to make the course more difficult, it hasn’t worked. It was better earlier. Now it’s only good for a long game.”The RCGC is now battling on many more fronts like inclement weather and intractable neighbours. The 183 acre club is hemmed in by seven slums and has a road running through it. On a good day, cyclists pedal through the fairway, people squat on the driving range and bathe in any one of the club’s 50 odd tanks.On a bad day, picnickers roll out their plastic sheets and tuck in. With the boundary wall collapsing at places, encroachers use the club grounds as a thoroughfare. “On several occasions, we found the greens strewn with bottles and garbage after a night of revelry by the local dadas,” says former committee member Joydip Moitra.Besieged by problems within, the Royal’s managing committee is too hard-pressed to tackle these issues as it suffers from a cash crunch. “When we wanted to hike our membership fees, the proposal was shouted down,” says CEO Neeraj Bhalla.advertisementMembers who pride themselves on playing the cheapest golf at RCGC Rs 150 as opposed to Rs 800-900 a pop at Delhi courses for cart and caddy – dug their heels in when asked to pay regular green fees. The club’s 3,000 members contribute Rs 1.2 crore every year in fees, while course maintenance costs alone soar to about Rs 1.1 crore. There’s little left over for other things.”Since golf is their main business, the RCGC should invest more in improving the sport,” says Atwal. All but forgotten, too, is a Rs 32.68 lakh grant from the Tourism Ministry. With its 175th anniversary coming up in 2004, Bhalla says the club has big plans to upgrade its greens. ABOVE PARSense of tradition. The RCGC was set up in 1829.Has produced an exceptional assembly line of top Indian pros.BELOW PARShabby greens, minimal maintenance.Club fees too little to repair the course.Much as some members may hate the idea, Thompson may be recalled for another overhaul. With a better course, the Royal hopes to wean back many of the money-spinning tournaments it has “lost”. The Indian Open, for one, which could bring in a cool Rs 50-60 lakh per hosting.Consider this: golf in India is a Rs 12-15 crore business annually. The 25 tournaments on the Indian professional tour put out a prize money of about Rs 2.3 crore. The two biggest Asian Professional Tour dollar-events in the country at the moment the Royal Challenge Indian Open and the Hero Honda Masters together offer $600,000 (Rs 2.88 crore) in prize money. The organisational costs of running Asian Tour events is an additional $200,000 each per event alone.The equipment industry pulls in close to Rs 6 crore a year, while the business of managing and maintaining golf courses is anywhere between Rs 45 crore. “If you don’t count endorsements, golf is much bigger than any other sport in India,” says Bhalotia.If even a fraction of those crores of rupees were to come Royal’s way, the country’s oldest golf club might just be rich enough to live up to its name.advertisementlast_img read more

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