March 7, 2017: India’s S.S.P. Chawrasia will be aiming to become only the second golfer after compatriot Jyoti Randhawa to successfully defend the Hero Indian Open title when the prestigious tournament begins on Thursday.
The 38-year-old Chawrasia, who is a five-time Asian Tour winner, will need to reproduce last season’s heroics at a different venue this week, with the US$1.75 million championship moving to the DLF Golf and Country Club’s Gary Player course.
It’s (DLF) totally different compared to Delhi Golf Club. A few holes area really tough, but it’s tough for everyone. 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.
The greens and fairways are a little bit tricky. You have to place the ball at the right spots. That’s the trick. Next few days, that’s what I want to do. I have a lot of good memories of the tournament and the only thing different is that we’re on a different course. I’m thinking I’ll just replay all my good memories.
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.
“A few holes area really tough, but it’s tough for everyone. I’m going to give it 100%, that’s all I can do.” – S.S.P. Chawrasia
Chawrasia, who won at the Delhi course 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 at world number 26, 2015 Hero Indian Open champion Anirban Lahiri of India, current Asian Tour number one Scott Hend of Australia and Thai duo Kiradech Aphibarnrat and teenager Phachara Khongwatmai.
Randhawa, who is a three-time winner of the tournament, won back-to-back in 2006 and 2007 at the Delhi Golf Club to complete his hat-trick of titles.
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.
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, which is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour for the third successive year.