February 22, 2017: It is a spring treat that puts a spring in the feet of every Indian golfer. The Hero Indian Open is a global tournament with a uniquely Indian appeal. Only two weeks from the next edition of the tournament, the air of excitement and anticipation is building up steadily. The tournament is moving to the DLF Golf & Country Club in Gurgaon from its traditional home, the Delhi Golf Club.
Change is inevitable. While purists will lament the move away from DGC, an ever growing tournament needed a forward thinking host. It is a choice that is understandable. The DLF course is an outstanding test of skill and temperament.
Heightened Indian interest is par for the course
Anirban Lahiri will once again spearhead a meaty Indian contingent that includes every name to reckon with in Indian golf.
Rayhan Thomas is one of four amateur invitations. Even though he is just 17, the young resident of the Dubai desert is knocking fans over with some impeccable golf.
There will be a smattering of Thai stars, underlining the shifting plates of balance in the region. Kiradech Aphibarnrat has been making waves in Europe and USA. The fans will hope for a solid effort from the young man.
At last count, there were forty Indians listed on the entry sheet of the tournament. The co-sanctioned Asian and European Tour event offers Indian golfers a unique opportunity to force their way on to the international stage.
Richer than ever
The purse has been expanded too. Hero has been at the forefront of golf in India and the $1.75mn prize money from the Indian Open establishes them inside the top echelons of Asia’s growing golf investors.
SSP Chawrasia is the defending champion, but when the first tee is set this will feel like a completely different tournament. The affable Indian will be a popular winner, if he manages to pull off yet another miracle victory this March.