Indian Open: Lahiri, Chawrasia among strong home-grown golfers

Leading Indian names and past champions like S. S. P. Chawrasia, Anirban Lahiri, Jyoti Randhawa and others will be taking part in the Indian Open which begins on March 19.

Golf players (from left) Shubhankar Sharma with Udayan Mane and Shiv Kapur during a press conference for the announcement of Hero Indian Open 2020, in New Delhi on Thursday.

Golf players (from left) Shubhankar Sharma with Udayan Mane and Shiv Kapur during a press conference for the announcement of Hero Indian Open 2020, in New Delhi on Thursday.   -  SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

Some established names and rising stars will join the European Tour regulars when the 56th edition of $1.75 million Hero Indian Open tees off at the DLF Golf and Country Club at Gurugram on March 19.

Almost all the leading Indian names and a couple of past champions like S. S. P. Chawrasia (2016 and 2017), Anirban Lahiri (2015), Jyoti Randhawa (2000, 2006 and 2007) along with Shubhankar Sharma, Shiv Kapur, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Rashid Khan, Udayan Mane and others will be part of the field that has some tough overseas challengers.

Though the final list of entries is yet to be finalised, defending champion Stephen Gallache (Scotland), Andy Sullivan (England), Joost Luiten (Nederlands), Thomas Bjorn (Denmark), Yuta Ikeda (Japan) besides some young talents like Justin Sub (US), Akshay Bhatia (US), Nicolai Hojgaard (Denmark) and Mathew Jordan (Great Britain) are part of the field.

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The winner of the event receives $291,660 (approx. Rs. 2.08 crore) while the 70th finisher takes home $3,200 (Rs. 2.29 lakh).

Speaking to Sportstar, Kapur said, “I’ve marked three or four weeks to peak this season. Indian Open week is among them. I’m playing three weeks leading up to it - New Zealand next week, then Malaysia and Thailand – working my way back, planned it in such a way that travelling gets reduced. Playing in Dubai has helped me prepare for challenges that courses like the DLF sort of presents – with sloppy, fast greens.”

Mane, winner of three successive titles on the domestic PGTI Tour recently, could well follow Rashid Khan to the Tokyo Olympics this year. He said, “Indian golfers do not any great “home advantage” of playing at the DLF course. It is a modern course and many players in both continents have adjusted to the challenges such courses offer. We do have the crowd backing us. But over all, it is a fair test for everyone.

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“I am looking to make my game better. I am just looking to improve and sharpen my sword for, when ever the day comes of me winning, that’s the ultimate goal of learning more about my swing, my game, polish and re-polish my skills. I am going to come three days before Indian Open and get myself as acclimatized to the weather and the golf course as possible.”

Shubhankar said, “I’ve had a few good results recently but I really want to do well here. DLF was once my home course and it will be great to do well there.”