Hero Indian Open: Harrington is the star attraction

The 44-year-old Irish, who won The Open Championship in 2007 and 2008 and the PGA Championship, also in 2008, will be competing against a strong field of players from Europe and Asia when the national open is held from March 17 to 20.

Padraig Harrington at the Tour Championship in 2009.   -  AP

Three-time Major champion Padraig Harrington will be the cynosure of all eyes when the 52nd Hero Indian Open returns with Anirban Lahiri looking to defend his title in one of the strongest fields at the prestigious Delhi Golf course next month.

The 44-year-old Irish, who won The Open Championship in 2007 and 2008 and the PGA Championship, also in 2008, will be competing against a strong field of players from Europe and Asia when the national open is held from March 17 to 20.

Besides former champions like Siddikur Rahman (Bangladesh), Thaworn Wiratchant (Thailand) and Mardan Mamat (Singapore), the Indian field will include Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal, S. S. P. Chawrasia, Shiv Kapur, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Rashid Khan, Rahil Gangjee, Himmat Rai and Chiragh Kumar.

Co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour for the second straight year, the prestigious event will carry an enhanced prize purse of USD 1.66 million.

“I am really looking forward to play at the Indian Open.

It is starting on St Patricks Day. I played in India as an amateur in the early 1990s and it would be great to be back in India and see all the changes,” said Harrington, who will be defending his title at the Honda Classic at Palm Beach, US from February 25 to 28.

“India has emerged as a strong golfing nation and the Asian tour has grown from strength to strength and I hope to be up for the challenge,” added the Irish golfer in a video message.

The 28-year-old Lahiri, who ranks inside World’s Top-50 and has featured in all four Majors and the Presidents Cup last year, had won the Hero Indian Open in a remarkable run and he will look to train his eyes on the title.

Two-time European Tour winner, Chawrasia, a four-time runner-up at this iconic event, will also attempt to go one better at the course, where he has won twice, and was second in the last two editions of the Hero Indian Open.