Course, conditions keep Indian Open contenders guessing

The challenge posed by the re-designed course at the DLF Golf and Country Club course remains the talking point ahead of the USD 1.75 million Hero Indian Open.

The re-designed golf course has enhanced the challenge for golfers.   -  Special Arrangement

Ahead of the USD 1.75 million Hero Indian Open, the talking point remains the intimidating layout of the Gary Player-designed DLF Golf and Country Club course here. Whether it is Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello, India’s numero uno Anirban Lahiri or any home-grown challenger in the field this week, everyone is looking to find ways to deal with the tricky course, which could get more difficult should the wind get into play once the action commences on Thursday.

The re-designed course, measuring 7,373 yards, now has a scenic parkland design, a landscape that has two large lakes, huge land forms, undulating greens and challengingly-placed bunkers. In addition, the layout of the 17th and 18th holes demands a cool head for a strong finish.

On the par-5 18th, long-hitters can use the steep slope with a hope of getting on to the green in two. Otherwise, a well-measured lay-up from the top of the fairway should find the preferred landing area which is a few storeys below. Thereafter, an approach-shot over the water is needed to reach the green. Indeed, such a testing final hole has enhanced the intrigue factor.

The first nine holes, called the “Lake Nine”, are understandably dominated by water besides an island green on the par-3 fifth hole. The back nine, known as the “Quarry Nine” features a large lake and since it is built around a quarry, the man-made rock formations add to the intimidating look of the course.

With course ready to throw up a few surprises, the title-aspirants are understandably guarded in their approach.

A challenging course

Lahiri summed up the ensuing challenge very well. “It’s basically a ball-striker’s course. It’s going to be a challenge for sure. I mean, it’s not something that you come across very often. Much depends on how they set up the golf course. Pace of play is going to be a concern and if it gets windy it's going to be extremely hard. I think they are going to set it up for scoring, which is a good thing.

“There are going to be certain sucker-pins, or pins that are going to be inviting, but you got to play away from. And there could be wind. They’re saying that it might rain. It would be interesting to see because the greens are rock hard right now. If it does rain and it softens up, that might change the dynamic a little bit.”

Should it favour the overseas players, Rafa, the European Ryder Cup player, Australians Scott Hend and Brett Rumford could be among the front-runners on Sunday. Hend heads the Asian Tour Order of Merit while Rumsford is fresh from winning his sixth European Tour title following his triumph last month in the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth championship.

Apart from Lahiri and defending champion S. S. P. Chowrasia, Indians capable of catching the eye this week are last year’s double international winner Gaganjeet Bhullar, former champions Jyoti Randhawa and Arjun Atwal, the seasoned Jeev Milkha Singh who is looking for his maiden Open, Shiv Kapur, youngsters like Shubhankar Sharma, 20, Rashid Khan, S. Chikkarangappa and Khalin Joshi.

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :