Lahiri to join strong star cast at Venetian Macao Open

India’s star golfer Anirban Lahiri, who won the Venetian Macao Open in 2014, will return to the event next month after a month-long break.

Anirban Lahiri won the event in 2014.   -  Reuters

India’s star golfer Anirban Lahiri, who won the Venetian Macao Open in 2014, will return to the event next month after a month-long break. World No. 13 Branden Grace of South Africa and reigning Asian Tour No. 1 Lahiri will lend their star credentials to the event.

The latest addition of marquee names will ensure the 2016 edition of Macao’s flagship golf championship will boast one of its strongest fields ever in its 17-year history when the prestigious tournament tees off at Macau Golf & Country Club from October 13 to 16.

Title holder Scott Hend of Australia and Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland confirmed their participation in the USD 1.1 million tournament, the richest full-field Asian Tour event this season.

Lahiri, winner of the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2015 and the Venetian Macao Open in 2014, has been Hend’s arch rival over the last three years and took turns to hold aloft the famouse trophy.

While the Australian cruised to a three-stroke win over Lahiri in 2013 despite a late rally by the Pune native, the result was reversed the following year when Hend let a two-shot lead slip on the final day to lose his title by one.

Fans were treated to a third instalment of the Hend-Lahiri rivalry last year when the two champions found themselves in the all-too-familiar positions of being first and second going into round four. In the end, Hend held firm and became only the second player to win the prestigious tournament twice, after China golf pioneer Zhang Lian-wei who achieved the feat in 2001 and 2002.

Lahiri, who represented India in the recent Olympic Games, said: “The Venetian Macao Open is one of my favourite stops on tour and I have always enjoyed my time at the Macau Golf and Country Club.

“Scott and I get on very well on and off the course and we seem to always bring the best out of each other in Macao."

Scott has had a great run in previous years and I hope to even the score this year with a solid performance. We have had intense battles the last two years on Sunday afternoon and I expect the same this year. I have had a fair season with some good results, but it will be wonderful to get a win at the Venetian Macao Open and even up my score with Hendy.”

Grace, 28, will be aiming to secure a winning debut at the Venetian Macao Open following a year which has seen him win twice and post two top-five finishes at the Majors. He also made a name for himself at last year’s Presidents Cup in Korea where he notched a perfect record of five wins in as many matches, becoming only the fifth player in history to produce the feat.