Indian Open: Tough week awaits Indians in a formidable field

The field for the upcoming 2 million-dollar Hero Indian Open suggests it’s unlikely that one will see an Indian winner this week.

Published : Feb 22, 2023 18:32 IST , Gurugram

Shubhankar Sharma in action.
Shubhankar Sharma in action. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Shubhankar Sharma in action. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

It has been around three decades since the Indian golfers graduated from being mere participants to serious performers in their National Open. After Ali Sher showed the way in 1991 and again in 1993, a number of homegrown talents have regularly won dollar-events in the country.

But looking at the field for the 2 million-dollar Hero Indian Open beginning at the DLF Golf and Country Club on Thursday, it looks unlikely that another Indian winner could join the list of winners this week.

Since not many Indian golfers get to play at this elite course, they don’t have the advantage of being more familiar with it than their overseas counterparts. Worse, the Gary Player-redesigned course has already earned the reputation of having, probably, the toughest three holes to the finish on the European Tour.

If one goes by the rankings, four players from the top-100 are around. Headed by Kazuki Higa, ranked 75th, the field also has Pablo Larrazabal (88th), Robert MacIntyre (91st) and Thorbjorn Olesen (92nd) as part of the creamy layer of this tough field.

Though Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher is back to defend the title won in 2019, all eyes will be on those in form. In the field are eight performers who accounted for 10 titles in the 2022 DP World Tour and the ongoing season.

In such a background, the Indian brigade headed by 205th ranked Shubhankar Sharma is unlikely to pose a serious threat over the weekend.

Joining Shubhankar in the hunt is Manu Gandas, who earned playing rights on the DP World Tour after winning the PGTI Order of Merit. Both these players can be expected to draw from their experience of playing for years on this course.

Gaganjeet Bhullar, the last Indian to win an Asian Tour event last year, and a struggling two-time former champion S. S. P. Chawrasia are part of the 31-player Indian presence.

For the record, the event returns after a three-year Covid-forced break with an increased prize-money of $250,000 to further reinforce its claim of being the country’s richest event across disciplines. Interestingly, the event offers more than Rs. 16 crore as prize-money - two crore more than what the entire domestic season offered in 2022.

It will be interesting to see how many Indians survive the halfway ‘cut’ that will prune the starters’ list of 120 golfers to 70 for the weekend.

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