Panasonic Open: Gangjee, Perera fancy their chances

"I haven’t won anything on the Asian Tour yet, but I strongly believe that my first win will come at the Delhi Golf Club. It is like my home golf course, because I always play well here," says Mithun Perera ahead of the Panasonic Open.

Rahil Gangjee... aiming for the title with a lot more conviction.   -  Sandeep Saxena

Mithun Perera of Sri Lanka is one of the favourites, as he knows the Delhi Golf Club course very well.   -  AP

The enhanced prize money and the graduation of past champions to the big league has forced Rahil Gangjee and Mithun Perera of Sri Lanka – who had lost the play-off for the trophy last year – to eye the title in the fifth edition of the $400,000 Panasonic Open with a lot more conviction.

The tournament will be played at the Delhi Golf Club course here from November 5.

At a press conference at the DGC on Tuesday, the aspirants aired their hopes while the sponsors were happy that they have been able to provide a perfect launch pad for the players. They also expressed their wish about having more foreign talent to make it an exciting affair.

With two of the past champions, Anirban Lahiri and S. S. P. Chowrasia, who incidentally is on top of the Asian Order of Merit, occupied with the $8.5 million World Golf Championship in Shanghai on the same dates, the field, featuring Order of Merit winners like Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand and Jyoti Randawa, along with other prominent players like Marcus Both of Australia, Gaganjeet Bhullar and Rashid Khan, promises a new champion. Of course, Digivijay Singh, one of the past champions is part of the race.

Mithun Perera, who had finished joint third in the Hero Indian open at the DGC, is one of the favourites, as he knows the course well. This, despite the fact that he tends to use the driver a lot, which could often spell trouble in the tree-lined course with narrow fairways.

“It is a personal choice,” said Perera, conceding that he also likes to stay clear of trouble.

“You have to keep it in play,” said Gangjee.

“It is one of the toughest courses in the world. But it all depends on what time of the year you are playing,” remarked Chiragh Kumar. When probed, he expressed the need to be more careful on the par-5 holes.

All agreed that the greens were playing fantastic and rolling good, with the early signs of winter in the Capital.

“I haven’t won anything on the Asian Tour yet, but I strongly believe that my first win will come at the Delhi Golf Club. It is like my home golf course, because I always play well here,” said Perera.

“I like golf courses where you have to work it around the course and where you don’t just blast it,” said Gangjee.

The Brand and Marketing Communications head of Panasonic India, Sarthak Seth, said that the “tournament has been good to us”. He was pleased that three of the champions in the four editions have been Indian.

Expressing the company’s commitment to the event for two more years, Seth said that increasing the prize money by another $100,000 this year was aimed at making the “launching pad” stronger for the aspiring players on the Asian Tour.

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