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New Zealand's Campbell tops Indian league auction

Michael Campbell from New Zealand reacts as he putts on the 15th hole on the third day of the Hong Kong Open golf tournament November 17, 20
Michael Campbell from New Zealand reacts as he putts on the 15th hole on the third day of the Hong Kong Open golf tournament November 17, 20

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Former U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell was the hottest property in an auction for the inaugural Golf Premier League near Mumbai next month as eight franchises spent nearly $700,000 to recruit players.

The New Zealander was bought for $61,000 by Shubhkamna Eagles at the auction, while two-times major winner Angel Cabrera went to Maharashtra 59ers and 2011 Open winner Darren Clarke was picked by Uttarakhand Lions, both for $55,000.

Scheduled to take place February 8-10 at a course near Mumbai, the league, with total prize money of $400,000, will feature two day-night rounds of strokeplay, followed by a final round of the best-ball format.

Touted in India as golf's answer to Twenty20 cricket, each round will be played over 14 holes instead of the regular 18.

"For me it is the slow and steady build-up to the dream that I have had for a franchise-based event in golf and now we are up and running," Indian golfer Shiv Kapur, who masterminded the league, said in a statement released late on Saturday.

"The launch and the auction have set the stage and now it is for us, the players, to add to the show."

The franchises bought three players each, with Kapoor drawing the highest fee among the Indian golfers, joining Cabrera at Maharashtra 59ers for $59,000.

Gaganjeet Bhullar, a four-times winner on the Asian Tour, fetched $58,000 from Punjab Lancers, who have also secured the services of Asia number one Thaworn Wiratchant.

Sri Lanka cricket captain Mahela Jayawardene is the promoter of the Colombo-based franchise.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Peter Rutherford)

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