BANGALORE: The confidence is upbeat as the junior golfers from across eight countries in Asia tee off for the biggest championships for juniors at the Eagleton, Golf Resort, near here on the morrow. The four-day 31st Asia-Pacific junior gold championship will witness competition for the boys and girls team events besides individual honours in four categories — A, B, C and D. Thailand is the defending champions in both the team events.

Puwit Anpuamsuebsai, just 10, is highly rated in his country and is amongst the handful of contenders for the D category honours.

In the absence of Korea, a strong challenger for unknown reasons, India and Chinese Taipei are the contenders for the title besides Thailand. And the Indian duo of Ashbeer Saini and S. Chikkarangappa look a notch above the rest, after some superb showing in the recent past both at the national and international tour events.

Rasheid Khan, the Indian captain, who is just out of the juniors ranks himself and having played three-four times in the Asia-Pacific event sounded very optimistic. “Our players are doing well of late and both Ashbeer coming off a string of good results and Chikka can seize the home advantage to improve upon the tied fourth place finish of last year, if not go all the way to the title.”

Chikka, playing at home too was very confident of a good showing. “It's for Ashbeer and me to put up a good card each day and in turn motivate the rest of the team to turn up good performances too. We have a good team and if we manage to take the pressure off the others there is sure to be good results,” said Chikka, who has done exceptionally well at his home course, Eagleton, over the years. Ashbeer, the 16-year-old from Kapurthala also struck a positive note

This is the third instance of India hosting the Asia-Pacific junior event. The two previous editions were held in Kolkata in 2000 and Delhi in 1991 and is jointly sponsored by HP and Intel.

The divisions are Category A (15-17 years), Category B (13-15), Category C (11-13) and the junior-most in Category D (under-10).

While India has fielded 48 players in the four categories, the girls challenge is led by Gurbabani Singh, Shreya Ghei and Vani Kapoor with Aditi Ashok figuring in category C.

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