SWINDON’S David Howell admits he faces an unusual challenge in India this weekend as he makes a radical departure from regular tournament play.
The Broome Manor pro will tomorrow take part in the IPL-influenced Pearls Golf Premier League, the brainchild of New Delhi-born Shiv Kapur, a former Volvo Masters of Asia champion.
The competition at Aamby Valley Golf Course near Pune will see eight teams of four compete over three 14-hole rounds in a stroke play/best ball format under lights.
Kapur has managed to attract a talented field to mix with players from the host country, which includes double Major winner Angel Cabrera, 2011 Open winner Darren Clarke and former US Open champion Michael Campbell.
Teams were chosen when eight franchises lodged bids on players at auction, with a fourth player added to complete each side on the basis of the overall spend of the franchise.
“The whole thing is a little bit different,” said Howell.
“It's not straightforward or generic. It's a novel event and I suppose its success will be determined on how much the sponsors enjoy it.
“I don't think this is in any way trying to shape the future of golf, it's about trying to create interest in the sport in a new region in India.
“They are trying to get more people to come out and watch it by playing the event after work hours, so whether it will prove a success, we will see.
“They are very passionate about their cricket and come out in their masses to watch that, so it will be interesting to see if this attracts a lot of interest in a similar way.
“For me it was just an opportunity that came along at the right time and there will be no pressure or stress like on the tour.
“Shiv is a friend of mine, we share the same management company (International Sports Management) and he's come up with something different.”
The involvement of the two-time Ryder Cup winner in India this weekend means he misses the European Tour's Joburg Open, which starts in South Africa today.
Having completed his duties in India, Howell plans to travel home to Dubai to spend a couple of weeks with his family before returning to tour action at the Tshwane Open, also in South Africa, which starts on February 28.
“It was always 50-50 whether I played at the Joburg Open anyway,” said Howell.
“The first three events of the year in the Middle East were a no-brainer, but the South African tournaments are a little bit similar and most of the guys pick one of the three to play in.”