Poulter predicts bright future for India as tour looks east

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The Independent Online

Ian Poulter feels there has never been a better time for the European Tour to spread its wings in India, as the subcontinent hosts its second Tour event in under a month.

Only three weeks after making its inaugural stop in the subcontinent at the co-sanctioned Indian Masters here, the Tour has returned for the Johnnie Walker Classic, an event sanctioned in conjunction with the Asian Tour and PGA Tour of Australasia. S S P Chowrasia's victory at the Indian Masters has raised local interest in the £1.25m tournament, and Poulter said: "We all know how many Indian golfers are coming on to the scene now and they're breaking into the top 100 in the world, so it's a great time to have a couple of events over here.

"The golf courses are tough and it's great for the exposure [of the game in India]. It's great for European Tour golf and I think it's very good to be coming out to new venues like this and to test out the market here."

Poulter believes India has an advantage over golf's other emerging power, China, because of the large number of excellent young professionals in the country. "You certainly need to be able to back up [the growth of golf] and they certainly have that over here," he said. "It's growing very fast and I just hope that they keep persevering with it, because they have got a few good golfers coming through and they're certainly going to have more with the amount of golf courses that are popping up over here.

Poulter's views were echoed by the other big names here this week. "You need more tournaments like this to actually give an opportunity for the young golfers to see how golf really is," the world No 11 Vijay Singh said.

Colin Montgomerie also lavished praise on the Indian players. "They have more opportunity now to play the game, and they are taking the opportunity and working hard at it and see the rewards available to them," he said.

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