HARPAL SINGH BEDI / Gurgaon
Defending champion S.S.P. Chawrasia today admitted that he will face a tough challenge in his bid to become only the second golfer to defend the Hero Indian Open title saying “there will be a lot of mind games. It will be tricky.”
The US$1.75 million Hero Indian Open is slated to be played at the DLF Golf and Country Club’s Gary Player course here from March 9 to 12.
The 38-year-old Chawrasia, who is a five-time Asian Tour winner, will need to reproduce last season’s heroics though at a different venue this week. Jyoti Randhawa, who is a three-time winner of the tournament, won back-to-back in 2006 and 2007 at the Delhi Golf Club (DGC) to complete his hat-trick of titles.
Chawrasia, who won at the DGC by two shots last year, will face a stern challenge in his defence against the likes of Ryder Cup star Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain, who is the highest ranked golfer in the field, former champion Anirban Lahiri, current Asian Tour number one Scott Hend of Australia and Thai duo Kiradech Aphibarnrat and teenager Phachara Khongwatmai.
Talking to media persons , Chwarasia said “This is a tough course, if we play here more often, we’ll get used to it. It’s a different course. I don’t think there’s home advantage as it’s a new course for most of us. DGC is also a tough course but we’ve played there so many times and we know how to play it. That’s why Indians always play well in DGC.
“It’s (DLF) totally different compared to DGC. A few holes area really tough, but it’s tough for everyone. The greens and fairways are a little bit tricky. I’m going to give it 100%, that’s all I can do.
“ I was runner up four times in this event and I was a bit frustrated as I have to win the tournament. The national Open is like our fifth Major, and finally I won it last year and I got the trophy. I’m going to be give it my best and hopefully I can carry the trophy again.
While talking about his chances in the tournament the Kolkata based pro also lamented that he is yet to receive Rs 30 –lakh which he claimed was promised by the sports ministry towards preparation for the Rio Olympics.
“I had written to the Sports Ministry sometime ago and I have got a response from them. They want me to complete the required paper work and submit it to them,”
“I think they are right in asking for paper work but with so much travelling as professional golfers it gets tough for us to go about the procedures. Hopefully it will be sorted out soon,” he said further.
The powerfully built Cabrera Bello is a two-time winner on the European Tour but he has not tasted victory since 2012. He contended at the UBS Hong Kong Open last December before finishing second and enjoyed a tied sixth in Qatar earlier this season.
I’m obviously very happy to be here. I’ve come far from Mexico (World Golf Championships last week). I was trying to work out how many miles, how far away that is. My game, you know it hasn’t been as good a start as last year but it hasn’t been bad at all. I’ve made all of the cuts I’ve played.,
The 17-year-old Phachara, who has enjoyed two runner-up finishes already this year and currently ranks third on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, will be hoping to claim a first victory in the Hero Indian Open 2017, which is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour for the third successive year.