In-form golfers Anirban Lahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar will lead the Indian challenge in the 49th edition of Hero Indian Open which ventures into Southern India for the first time in its nearly half a century history.
Lahiri,a winner on the Asian Tour this season,also made the cut and registered a hole-in-one at the British Open,while Bhullar,a three-time winner on Asian Tour,was second at the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters in Malaysia two weeks’ ago and won in Taipei this week.
The duo along with Shiv Kapur will join a star-studded field,headlined by two of the hottest players on the European Tour over the last month — Swede Peter Hanson and Richie Ramsay of Scotland — when the USD 1.25 million event begins here from October 18.
The oldest-running sports event in India,and one of the flagship events on the Asian Tour,the Hero India Open,will also feature England’s James Morrison,another European Tour winner.
The Hero Indian Open,which was held for the first time in 1964,has previously been held only in National Capital Region (Delhi Golf Club,Classic Golf resort and the DLF Golf and Country Club) and the Royal Calcutta Golf Club.
Pawan Munjal,Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer,Hero MotoCorp Ltd said: “Hero MotoCorp has supported golf for more than 15 years now. We have seen the game grow from humble beginnings to being a major sport in India.
“I have always believed that we have to take big-ticket golf to other cities for the game to attract more followers in the country. And I am indeed happy that this year’s edition is being played in Bengaluru. I am sure the Hero Indian Open will go a long way in drawing more youngsters to the game.
“This year’s field already looks very exciting with some of the top names confirming their participation,and I am sure more marquee players will be sending in their consent in the coming weeks. I do look forward to be in Bengaluru in October to savor some top-class golfing action.”
Hanson,34,and Ramsay,29,won in successive weeks earlier this month. While Hanson sank a monstrous 35-foot eagle to win the KLM Open in a spectacular manner in the Netherlands,Ramsay won the European Masters in Switzerland.
A member of the 2010 Ryder Cup team,Hanson – ranked No. 8 in Europe and No. 23 in the world – is also likely to be a crucial player for the 2012 Ryder Cup to be held in the United States in October,just three weeks before the Hero Indian Open.
Ramsay – ranked 17th in Europe and 60th in the world is also on a hot streak. He won the European Masters and then finished second to Hanson at the KLM Open.
More Indian and international names will be announced in the coming weeks.
With Bengaluru and the Karnataka Golf Association (KGA) Golf Course having produced numerous Indian golfing stars in recent times,including former Indian Open winner,C Muniyappa (2009) and Lahiri,it is only fitting that the event travels to the Garden City.
Muniyappa,who grew up and learnt his golf in Bengaluru,is on a comeback trail and is expected to make a strong showing.
Lt. General AKS Chandele (Retd.),Vice-President,Indian Golf Union said: “The Hero Indian Open is Indian golf’s signature tournament. Its history and popularity is indicative of the pride of place it enjoys in Indian golfing annals.
“We have seen a lot of big names coming for the Indian Open each year and I am sure the likes of Peter Hanson,Richie Ramsay and James Morison will add to that glitter.”
Announcing the launch of the tournament Sumit Rathor,President,KGA said: “We are thrilled to host the Hero Indian Open and would like to thank the IGU for giving us this opportunity.
Mike Kerr,Chief Executive Officer of the Asian Tour,said: “We at the Asian Tour believe the prospect for the growth of professional golf in India is healthy and I am sure the upcoming edition of the Indian Open will set a new benchmark and take Indian golf to the next level.”