Defending champion SSP Chawrasia, former champion Anirban Lahiri and twice European Tour winner Shubhankar Sharma will lead the strongest-ever Indian line-up at the 54th the Hero Indian Open to be played at the DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurgaon from 8 to 11 March.
Emiliano Grillo of Argentina, who is a PGA Tour winner and member of the 2017 Presidents Cup team, heads the global list for this USD 1.75 million tournament. The big names also include Andrew Johnston and the Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn, who has 21 worldwide wins including 15 on European Tour. Bjorn led a strong European team last month to a fine win over Asia in the EurAsia Cup in Malaysia.
Past champion Thongchai Jaidee and Ryder Cup player, Chris Wood, who won the 2016 BMW PGA Championships, are also in the field. However all eyes will be on the highest-ranked Indian player in the tournament Shubhankar Sharma, who with two European Tour wins in less than two months, has broken into Top-100, with a world ranking of No. 72.Lahiri, PGA Tour player and World No. 76, will try to reclaim the Hero Indian open trophy that he won in 2015.
Chawrasia will be attempting the first-ever hat trick of wins in the 54-year long history of the tournament. He had finished runner-up at the Hero Indian Open on four occasions – in 1999, 2006, 2013 and 2015 – before piping countryman Anirban Lahiri and Korea’s Jeunghun Wang to take the coveted title for the first time in 2016. He successfully retained his title last year to claim his fourth European Tour win.
The leading Indians who will be seen in action include among others Shiv Kapur, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Ajeetesh Sandhu, Team Asia captain Arjun Atwal, Jeev Milkha Singh, Jyoti Randhawa, Mukesh Kumar and Chiragh Kumar.
Talking about this edition of the marquee tournament, Shiv Kapur called it a “battle of generations” and said it would interesting to see how defending champion SSP Chawrasia, at 39, contends with the challenge from 21-year Shubhankar.
“The National Championship (the Indian Open) is the most important tournament in your calender.”For a Indian golfer, it is like the fifth Major. Every golfer dreams of winning his or her national championship,” he said.
About his chances in the tournament, Shiv Kapur who last year won thrice on the Asian Tour said, “One can never control form but the intention is to play well. If that gets more wins, great, otherwise the bigger goal is to keep learning and improving.”