Home favourites tussle for Asian glory

Having won all their Asian tour titles at DGC,Anirban Lahiri and Digvijay Singh are confident of another.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: April 4, 2013 1:05:12 am

Having won all their Asian tour titles at DGC,Anirban Lahiri and Digvijay Singh are confident of another.

Home favourites Anirban Lahiri and Digvijay Singh return to the scene of their famous victories determined to follow-up on their successes when the US$300,000 Panasonic Open India gets underway at the Delhi Golf Club on Thursday. The Panasonic Open India was where Lahiri and Singh earned their career breakthroughs with Lahiri winning his maiden title at the inaugural edition in 2011 and Singh emerging victorious last year.

The Delhi Golf Club was once regarded as a bane for Lahiri but those days are clearly a thing of the past consdering he has won all three of his Asian Tour titles at the. “Obviously playing at Delhi Golf Club is special to me as I’ve won thrice here. This is my fifth tournament in a row and my match fitness is there. Physically and mentally I’m ready,” said the 25-year-old.

While meditation has also proven to be the perfect tonic for Lahiri to stay calm and focussed,the Indian also knows that accuracy rather than distance holds the key when taming the course. “I’ve got more and more comfortable on this golf course and I seemed to have found my way around here. My Vipassna training has definitely helped me to stay focused but the key is also to stay out of the bushes and hit it onto the fairways at this golf course,” said Lahiri.

Since making his debut on the Asian Tour in 2008,Lahiri has been regarded as the next generation of players from India to lead golf in the country to greater heights.

Meanwhile Singh is looking forward to continue his winning run in a tournament which has rejuvenated his career. Having gone without a win in the last 12 years since making his Tour debut,Singh was in total control of his game last year,especially with his putting where he needed only 1.47 putts per green in regulation,ranking him first in the category then. “This golf course has been really kind to me and I really hope that it’ll be even kinder this week. I know this golf course well enough. The way I played those last six holes was an injection of confidence last year and I would like to replicate the same feeling again,” said Singh.

“I played four solid rounds of golf in Chiangmai last week. Consistency was what I was looking for then and it’s exactly what I’m looking for again this week,” added the 41-year-old.

Singh will need to be as consistent as possible considering the stiffness of the competion. The strong field features no fewer than 14 tournament winners who have a total of over 30 titles between themselves.

Players from over 19 nations are represented in the Panasonic Open India,making it a truly cosmopolitan field. “Once you’ve jumped off a plane,you don’t feel any pressure especially when you’re standing on the first tee on the last round and in the last group. That really sounds,looks and feels a lot easier!” exclaimed Singh.

Also competing at the third edition of the Asian Tour event would be Bhullar,who made a fine start to the season by finishing second in the European Tour’s Avantha Masters. “Having cracked inside the top-100 (in the world rankings) has given me a lot of confidence. The way I am striking the ball,victory is coming very soon,” said the Kapurthala golfer.

“I had a great start to the season. Last season was also good for me and it has given me a lot of confidence,” he added.

International star

The big international name in the field is Oliver Wilson,the Englishman who finished second nine times on the European Tour and reached the pinnacle when he represented Europe at the 2008 Ryder Cup.

The top-three players at the Panasonic Open India will be extended invitations to the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open,sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation,in Osaka,Japan in September. “The course was firm but rains have made it softer. I feel the scoring is going to be low because the greens are softer,” said Jeev.

Similar was the opinion of Lahiri,who said,”The DGC is usually a little firmer and faster. Unless it stays dry,it is going play a little different,” he said. “The rough is a little up. The greens are good and course is playing slightly longer. It is going to a low-scoring week,” added Bhullar.

Viraj grabs lead

Kolkata lad Viraj Madappa shot a brilliant five-under 66 to grab a four-shot lead at the end of the second round of the IGU Uttar Pradesh Juniors at the Noida Golf Course. Viraj’s two-day total stood at 139. Feroz Singh Garewal returned a card of level par-71 to be placed second at 145.

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