How quickly an entire year has passed. It seems it was only yesterday that I had the magnificent Hero Indian Open Trophy in my hands. And, it is already time to battle it out to try and keep it with me for another year. It was easily the best moment of my life, and unless I win a Major or something similar, it will always be the most cherished of my wins.
The year 2016 was also the first time I won two titles, as I also lifted the Resorts World Manila Masters – curiously that came on the same day that Aditi Ashok won the Hero Women’s Indian Open at this same Gary Player course.
With two wins, 2016 was my best year, yet I feel I could have done even better. I also got to play the EurAsia Cup, Olympic Games and the World Cup. So, now I need to add Major appearances to my list. I did win outside India for the first time in Manila, but I want to do that in Europe, too, where I have played for long. Coming to my preparations, I have been playing well in patches, but not been able to do so on all four days.
My mistakes have proved costly and I don’t seem to be carrying my game from the range to the tournament. Hopefully I can rectify that this week. I have great memories of DLF, where I won a European Tour title – my second one – in 2011.
So I have been trying to focus on my positive memories as I have prepared for this week. But that win came on Arnold Palmer course and we are now playing at Gary Player layout.
My past record at the Hero Indian Open has led to everyone asking me, what I love about this event. The truth is that I consider it out fifth Major and I love the way it is conducted and how well Hero has promoted golf in India. I have great finishes at Delhi Golf Club, but make no mistake that the DLF, especially the Gary Player course, is totally different.
It demands accuracy, great ball control and penalizes harshly if you make mistakes. India has a great challenge and I am looking forward to another battle with Anirban (Lahiri). Both Anirban and I have done well a Delhi Golf Club, now like all else this course is new for us, too.
I am playing the first two rounds with Scott Hend, who won the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2016, and David Horsey, who I have known on the European Tour.
I get to play the first round in the afternoon. I believe there is some forecast of rain, so lets see how that affects the course, because of little softening will be good to place the ball on the greens. Having said that, I know that each and every aspect of the game needs to be in shape to do well at this course. With that in mind, we start our battle on Thursday in search of the 2017 Hero Indian Open champion.