There are no less than 16 Indians in the field this week and ten of them have won at least once on the Asian Tour, but it is S Chikkarangappa, twice winner on Asian Development Tour, who is looking to score his maiden win when the Macao Open begins.
Sixteen is surely the biggest Indian contingent at any international golf tournament outside India this season. Barring Jeev Milkha Singh, who is playing in the British Masters in London this week, every other active Indian golfer with a Tour card on Asian Tour is playing in Macao this week.
The Indians in the field this week are Anirban Lahiri, Arjun Atwal, Rashid Khan, Jyoti Randhawa, Gaganjeet Bhullar, SSP Chawrasia, Chikka, Rahil Gangjee, Chiragh Kumar, Shiv Kapur, Himmat Rai, Shubhankar Sharma, Amardip Malik, Shankar Das, Abhijit Chadha, Khalin Joshi.
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That lot includes two players, who have won this season, Chawrasia (Hero Indian Open) and Bhullar (Shinhan Donghae) and three Indians, Randhawa, Atwal and Lahiri, who have also won the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
Anirban Lahiri, a past winner in Macao in 2014, has won at least once in each year since 2011, but this season is still searching for his first victory. He did finish second to Chawrasia in Hero Indian Open.
But coming into Macao, the two players in excellent form are Bhullar, winner in Korea, and Chikka, the two times winner on Asian Development Tour, and who has finished in Top-10 three times this year, including two in his last two starts.
Chikka said, “A win is around the corner. I’ve been doing well. I’ve been in there in the last few groups a few times. I’ve taken a lot of positives in the weeks when I’ve not finished well or collapsed. I think I’m getting better from being in that position.”
He added, “Coming in with good form is a good feeling. I’ve done well the last few events and coming to Macao is always special. There’re a lot of top players here and it’s a great feeling competing against some of the best in the world.
“We did a lot of work back home with my coach Vijay Divecha. Spent a lot of time with my short game, especially 100 yards in and we worked hard at it. It used to be my strength and I kind of lost it a bit. But I got it back and that’s why I’ve been able to shoot some good scores the past few weeks.
“My card is almost a lock. I spoke to Anirban about it and I told him about it the same way that I was thinking too much about my card than my game and he told me to just go out and enjoy my game. He said I shouldn’t worry about the card as once I’m on my game, I’m on. That’s helped me a lot and that’s helped me this year. I want to try to finish top-30 so that I get into every event next year.”