Among the many questions that I am asked before every edition of Hero Indian Open, is the one common one each year and that relates to my special relationship with the event. My answer is the same — it is my National Open and it was the first big event I got to play way back in 1999 and I was second in it.
Ever since then I had always wanted to win it badly, because I saw how much prestige it held and how every Indian golfer craved for success in it. Now that I have won it twice, my answer is slightly different – since I came close four times finishing second, it would be nice to win it as many times. I have won it two times, it would nice to make it four wins and four second places!
Before I move to on to other things, a quick word on Shubhankar Sharma who I have seen on Asian Tour for last couple of years. He is a superb talent and he is just 21. He will improve a lot more and I am sure he is going to achieve big things and has the ability to win Majors.
He has both the game and the temperament. That he is playing the Masters is good for us as a country and it will motivate all of us to do the same. Coming back to the Hero Indian Open, I know no one has won it three times in a row, so I have a great opportunity to do that. I am playing well and with a little bit of tweaking I could do so again.
As for playing and winning at home – five of my six wins on European and Asian Tours have come at home – the reason is clear. There is home comfort and of course we all get Indian food and the conditions are something we have had all our lives. There is no secret to winning at home. You just have to play well, no matter where you are playing. Anirban (Lahiri) and I have been a great team in various competitions, whether it is the Olympic Games or the EurAsia Cup. But when we are playing a tournament, both of us want to win.
To be honest, being friends with him and having travelled so much with him, I have learned a lot. We have played together a lot and whenever we get a chance to practice together we always do. It’s always good fun, and I hope the next two days will be the same. I have done well in India and Asia but I have also been on the European Tour. I have not been consistent, so that’s my immediate goal.