The international starcast from over 30 countries, including six players from the World’s Top-100 are all set to battle it out at the 2018 Hero Indian Open. The field includes stars from 31 countries from across the world and has amongst them a plethora of Order of Merit winners, past champions, Ryder Cup captains and a Major champion.
As the flagship event of Indian golf, the Hero Indian Open – which is one of the oldest events in the continent – comes closer, many of the top players have shown excellent form in the run up to the event. The Hero Indian Open will be played at the Gary Player layout at the DLF Golf and Country Club from March 8 to 11, 2018.
One of the biggest draws in the event, Emiliano Grillo of Argentina – a teammate of India’s own Anirban Lahiri at the 2017 Presidents Cup – is coming fresh off a Top-10 finish last week on the PGA Tour. Both Grillo, a past winner on the PGA Tour, and Lahiri are flying in straight from the PGA National in Florida where they played last week.
Grillo, who was in Top-20 of three of the four Majors in 2016, is looking very strong once again in 2018. In the current wrap-around season, he already has two Top-10s on the PGA Tour, besides another T-12 in Mexico.
India’s Lahiri is also coming off two Top-10s in CIMB Classic and CJ Bridges Cup besides T-14 at Mayakoba, Mexico.
Even as the international players hold the spotlight, there will be considerable interest in India’s latest star, Shubhankar Sharma, who also features in his maiden World Golf Championships in Mexico this week. Shubhankar won two titles in the first two months of 2018, at the Joburg Open and the Malaysian Championships.
The men in form on the European Tour, Joost Luiten, winner of the NBO Oman Open, as also Chris Wood, who was second at the Oman event and T-13 in Qatar Masters, alongside England’s ever-smiling and hugely popular, Andrew Johnston, T-12 in Oman, are all looking forward to the event. Luiten was also T-12 in Malaysia, where Shubhankar emerged champion.
The field also boasts of two Ryder Cup captains of Europe, Darren Clarke – the 2011 Open winner and winner of two other WGC events, and Thomas Bjorn – winner of 21 titles and a former Top-10 world ranked player.
Clarke led the European Ryder Cup team in 2016, while Bjorn will be at helm for the 2018 Ryder Cup in France this year. Bjorn has finished runner-up at a Major as many as three times, including twice at the Open Championships.
“I have heard so much about India and Indian golf that I can’t wait to get there,” said Andrew Johnston, one of most popular players on the European Tour with a massive following
Johnston, who has also had a stint on the US PGA Tour, added, “I simply love Indian food and Shiv Kapur has promised to take me out for an Indian meal and I am looking forward to that. As for golf, Indians like SSP (Chawrasia) and Shubhankar (Sharma) are doing so well, so it will be great to play in India.”
Also looking forward to India is Chris Wood, whose six-foot-six inch height will make for a great contrast as he stands alongside the reigning two-time Hero Indian Open winner, the diminutive SSP Chawrasia. The two have played together often on European Tour and were also pitted against each other in the singles at the 2016 EurAsia Cup in Malaysia.
On the Indian side, the virtual who’s who of Indian golf will be present and that includes the two players who have accounted for the past three Hero Indian Open titles – Anirban Lahiri in 2015 and Chawrasia in 2016 and 2017. Also present is Siddikur Rahman – winner in 2013.
All the five Indian winners on 2017 Asian and European Tours – Shiv Kapur (3 titles), Chawrasia, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Ajeetesh Sandhu and Shubhankar – are present in the field.
The field also includes the past three winners of the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings – Gavin Green (2017), Scott Hend (2016) and Lahiri (2015).
Facts and figures:
Edition: 54th (started in 1964)
Prize money: US $ 1.75 million dollars
Players in the Top-100:
Joost Luiten (68); Julian Suri (70), Shubhankar Sharma (75), Emiliano Grillo (76), Anirban Lahiri (79), Chris Wood (91)
Past champions of HIO:
SSP Chawrasia (2017, 2016), Anirban Lahiri (2015), SIddikur Rahman (2013), David Gleeson (2011), Liang Wen-chong (2008), Jyoti Randhawa (2007, 2006, 2000), Thongchai Jaidee (2001), Arjun Atwal (1999).