Harpal Singh Bedi /New Delhi
The Hero Indian Open, the country’s marquee golf tournament – which enters its 54th edition this year – will have the strongest-ever field with a galaxy of Indian stars vying for top honours with some marquee names from around the world.
Defending champion SSP Chawrasia, former champion Anirban Lahiri and twice European Tour winner and emerging talent Shubhankar Sharma will lead the Indian line-up at the European and the Asian Tour co-sanctioned tournament – to be played at the Gary Player layout of the DLF Golf and Country Club from March 8 to 11.
Emiliano Grillo of Argentina, who is a PGA Tour winner and member of the 2017 Presidents Cup team, will head the global list. The marquee names also include Andrew Johnston, one of the most popular players around the world, and the Ryder Cup captain, Thomas Bjorn, who has 21 worldwide wins including 15 on European Tour. Bjorn led a strong European team last month to a fine win over Asia in the EurAsia Cup in Malaysia.
The highest-ranked Indian player in the tournament will be Shubhankar Sharma, who with two European Tour wins in less than two months, has broken into Top-100, with a world ranking of No. 72. Lahiri, PGA Tour player and World No. 76, will try to reclaim the Hero Indian open trophy that he won in 2015.
The tournament will also see a strong Indian challenge including Shiv Kapur, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Ajeetesh Sandhu, Team Asia captain Arjun Atwal, Jeev Milkha Singh, Jyoti Randhawa, Mukesh Kumar, Chiragh Kumar and many others.
Chawrasia will be attempting the first-ever hat trick of wins in the 54-year long history of the tournament. Chawrasia had finished runner-up at the Hero Indian Open on four occasions – in 1999, 2006, 2013 and 2015 – before piping countryman Anirban Lahiri and Korea’s Jeunghun Wang to take the coveted title for the first time in 2016. He successfully retained his title last year to claim his fourth European Tour win.
Past champion Thongchai Jaidee and Ryder Cup player, Chris Wood, who won the 2016 BMW PGA Championships, are also in the field.
Keith Waters, Chief Operating Officer of the European Tour, said, “The support of Hero MotoCorp has helped this tournament to go from strength to strength. Our thanks go to Pawan Munjal and his team for their continued support of Indian Golf and in particular this event, which has proved to be of real benefit to emerging local golfers who have had the opportunity to grow their careers on the European Tour.”
Satish Aparajit, President of the Indian Golf Union, the apex body for golf in India, said, “The Hero Indian Open has become a very important stop on the European and Asian Tours. Besides attracting global stars, it has been a platform for upcoming juniors not only from all over Asia and Europe but also India.”