Chirag: 'Choosing best club off the tee will be a big decision'

"Choosing the best club off the tee will be a big decision as he aims to retain the title at the Panasonic Open, starting tomorrow in New Delhi", feels Chirag.

The defending champion Chirag Kumar feels, choosing the best club off the tee will be a big decision as he aims to tame the tricky Delhi Golf course and retain the title at the Panasonic Open, starting tomorrow.

“I think the course is playing very different than what it has been in the past few years. It’s playing lot longer and softer so choosing the best club off the tee will be a big decision. Golfers coming from other centres will find it little difficult as the ball is going shorter but otherwise it is in great shape,” Chirag said.

S. Chikkarangappa, one of the pair who represented India in the prestigious World Cup of Golf last week, also seconded the opinion, saying: “It is playing softer and I think longer clubs will be used for the tee shot and also the second shot.”

China’s Liang Wen-chong, who had set the course record at DGC with a 12-under-par 60 some eight years ago, said: “The key this week will be the short game. I can’t promise a 60 but I will give my best.”

Relishing the chance to defend his title for the first time in his career, Kumar said: “It is always fantastic to comeback to DGC. Everybody is talking about me defending the title but I am not taking any pressure that I have to win, I think titles are not won that way. Someday somebody will be better than you, so the idea is to go there and enjoy.

“The course is fantastic here, it is in great shape and I am really looking forward to the week. Hopefully I can put up a good score and defend my title, that is the goal,” said the 32-year-old, who secured his Asian Tour card for 2017 following a tied-fourth result in Resorts World Manila Masters early this month.

“It was very close win last year as it had gone down to the wires with Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant and Bangladesh’s Siddikur Rahman. There is no better feeling than winning in your home course. Life has changed after that win and I feel more confident to win again,” he added.

Bangalore’s Chikkarangappa, who has notched up four top-10 finishes to sit at 27th place on the current money list, is also counting his chances this week.

“I think a win is around the corner for me. I just have to stay patient. I think my game has gotten better over the last few events so I just need to focus on what I need to do and things should fall in place,” said the 23-year-old Indian.

Making a return to India since his memorable victory at the venerable venue in 2008, Liang, who is a three-time Asian tour winner, said: “I am happy to be back to India. It is good to see the standard of Indian golfers have grown so much. I played with Jeev and Jyoti during that time and now we have a new crop of players from India competing here.”

Golfers from over 20 countries will feature in the 120-man field in the USD 400,000 Panasonic Open, which looks depleted due to the absence of stalwarts such as Anirban Lahiri and S.S.P. Chawrasia.