Top Indian golfers, including defending champion SSP Chawrasia and 2015 winner Anirban Lahiri, will be up against challenging conditions at the redesigned DLF Golf and Country Club when they tee off at the USD 1.75 million Indian Open starting from Thursday.
The Gary Player-designed course is likely to pose a lot of questions to the Indians and Europeans alike when the prestigious tournament makes a return to the course after eight years.
After finishing second best on four occasions, Chawrasia finally lay his hands on the coveted trophy last year at the Delhi Golf Course and the five-time Asian tour winner will aim to become only the second after compatriot Jyoti Randhawa to
successfully defend the title.
“It’s (DLF) totally different compared to DGC. A few holes are really tough, but it’s tough for everyone. I was runner up four times in this event and I was a bit frustrated but finally I won it last year. I’m going to give it 100 per cent, that’s all I can do,” said Chawrasia, who also won the Resorts World Manila Masters last year.
“This is a tough course. The greens and fairways are a little bit tricky. You have to place the ball at the right spots. That’s the trick.”
Chawrasia has won all his three European tour events at home. The Kolkata golfer, infact, won the 2011 Avantha Masters at the DLF Golf and Country Club when it was designed by Arnold Palmer and he would look to relive the happy memories here.
With four top-25 finishes in the current PGA Tour season, Lahiri will also be a top contender and will look to get a good result to give himself a chance in the year’s first Major, Augusta Masters next month.
“It would not be as Indian dominated. You might not see a leaderboard littered with Indian names. DLF is more parkland and more like the European-style courses. It’s going to be more open and longer holes, not as demanding off the tee as with DGC,” Lahiri said.
The tri-sanctioned event will also see top stars, including Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain, Australian Brett Rumford and Thai duo Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Phachara Khongwatmai, competing for the title.
“My game hasn’t been as good a start as last year but it hasn’t been bad at all. I’ve made all of the cuts I’ve played, I’ve been in contention once or twice. I just maybe haven’t had that bit of momentum to be competitive in the last few holes. I’m confident that can change very soon,” said Rafa, who is the highest ranked golfer in the field at World No. 26.
Among others Indians, Gaganjeet Bhullar, who won the Shinhan Donghae Open and Indonesia Open last year, will also be itching to set the record straight by winning his first European or Asian Tour event on home turf.
Shubhankar Sharma, who has top-10 finishes in his last three events on the Asian Tour, Rashid Khan, S Chikkarangappa and Khalin Joshi will be among the young golfers eager to give their illustrious colleagues a run for their money.
Among the experienced pros, three-time Indian Open winner Jyoti Randhawa can never be written off at his favourite event especially if it happens to be at his home course, while veteran Jeev Milkha Singh, on the other hand, will be eager to finally break his jinx of winning in India.
Arjun Atwal and Shiv Kapur are the other established Indian names, while the seasoned Mukesh Kumar will also be a strong contender since he won the Panasonic Open India in December last year.
Also C Muniyappa will also won to roll back years and relieve his moment under the sun when he had become the only Indian to win the National Open at the same course in 2009.