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Dhaka, Bangladesh (January 31): Ten months after writing his name into golfing history by winning the 10th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, a new chapter in the career of Arjun Prasad will be written when he makes his Asian Tour debut as a professional this week.
At the age of 17, the Indian will be the youngest player in the field at the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open, the third leg of the 2017 Asian Tour season.
So speedy has been his rise to prominence that Prasad is having to pinch himself to make sure he’s not dreaming.
Less than three weeks ago, Prasad was still an amateur golfer, who entered the first stage of Asian Tour Qualifying School predominantly to gain experience of playing alongside the professionals.
Upstaging many seasoned campaigners, Prasad tied for seventh in the 72-hole event to progress to the Final Stage of Qualifying School where he once more acquitted himself splendidly.
In the Thailand event, he followed an opening 66 with rounds of 67, 69 and a closing 68 for a four-day aggregate of 20-under-par 268 and a share of 13th place.
It was a performance that surpassed his own expectations – and earned him playing rights on the Asian Tour for 2017.
“My golf career has been good so far,” said Prasad, who immediately decided to relinquish his amateur status and try his luck in the ranks of those who play-for-pay.
Prasad is following in the footsteps of his compatriot Rashid Khan, who also turned professional after winning the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final and has gone on to record two victories on the Asian Tour.
Upstaging some of Asia’s brightest young golfers, Prasad thrust himself into the limelight with a thrilling victory in the 10th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final at Mission Hills in China last March.
It was a triumph that opened many doors for the talented teenager, including appearances in the Hero Indian Open, the men’s World Amateur Team Championship for the Eisenhower Trophy in Mexico and the 20th Faldo Series Grand Final in England, where he tied for 16th.
Six-time Major champion Sir Nick Faldo, Britain’s most successful golfer, said: “I enjoyed spending some time with Arjun during our Grand Final in England and I was pleased to see him working hard at his game.
“His performance at Mission Hills last year was exceptional and underlined the talent in the junior game in India. I wish him every success as he attempts to establish himself on the Asian Tour. I’ll be following his progress with interest and hope to see him develop into a top-tier player.”
Supported by The R&A and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the 2016-17 Faldo Series Asia campaign stretches over 11 months.
As well as two events in China, India and Thailand, championships are staged in Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chinese-Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.
Recognised as the only global amateur series for boys and girls, the Faldo Series was established in 1996, expanding to Asia in 2006.
Today, 40 Faldo Series tournaments take place in 30-plus countries worldwide, touching more than 7,000 golfers each year. Past winners include Tseng Ya-ni and Rory McIlroy, both multiple Major winners.