The big-hitting Hend, who claimed his 10th Asian Tour title in Malaysia last week, is looking to taste success in India for the first time in his career when he takes on the challenging Gary Player-designed course at the DLF Golf and Country Club.
Hailed as the most successful international player on the Asian Tour, Hend had claimed all his 10 victories in Asia, including three titles in Thailand, two in Macau and one each in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei and Singapore.
Reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion Shubhankar Sharma will have another shot at fulfilling his childhood ambitions as he takes aim at adding his name to the illustrious list of Indian winners at the US$1.75 million event.
The 22-year-old Sharma, the highest-ranked Indian on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), set a new course record after firing an eight-under-par 64 during the second round of the Hero Indian Open last year.
The talented Indian held a share of the lead heading into the final round last year but would eventually close with a disappointing 75 to settle for a tied-seventh place finish.
Armed with a more mature mindset and a better game plan this time around, Sharma hopes to redeem himself by putting up another title charge in his National Open.
Anirban Lahiri, the 2015 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, is thrilled to be back home for the first time this year after honing his skills on the PGA Tour, where he has made five cuts in his last seven starts so far this season.
Lahiri, who won the Indian Open in 2015, endured a long haul 19-hour flight from Florida before arriving in New Delhi this morning. He will have to fight off jet-lag to turn his season around at the event which he has enjoyed several impressive results in the past.
A stellar 144-men field from 28 countries will be vying for top honours at the Hero Indian Open, which celebrates its 55th edition this week..
Did you know?
- Scott Hend made his Asian Tour debut in 2007 and is now the second highest-earning player following Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee with accumulated earnings of US$5.04 million. He broke the US$5 million mark in career earnings on the Asian Tour after winning the Maybank Championship, where he took home a winner’s prize purse of US$500,000 last week.
- Hend ended a three-year title drought on the Asian Tour when he claimed his 10th victory at the Maybank Championship last week.
- He was the first Australian to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2016 thanks to his two victories in Thailand and three top-10 finishes.
- Hend missed the cut in his past two appearances at the Indian Open but his best finish at the event was a tied-12th result in 2012.
- Shubhankar Sharma is playing in his second event at home this year. He enjoyed a joint runner-up result on his local circuit in February.
- Placed 122nd on the OWGR, Sharma is the highest-ranked Indian in the field this week.
- The 2018 Arjuna Award recipient set the course record of eight-under-par 64 in the second round of the Hero Indian Open last year.
- He narrowly missed out on a win at his National Open after taking a joint-lead into the final round last year but struggled to a 75 to end up in tied-seventh.
- Sharma is the youngest Indian to play in all four Major Championships in 2018, following the footsteps of Jeev Milkha Singh in 2007 and Anirban Lahiri in 2015 and 2016.
- Anirban Lahiri, now a regular player on the PGA Tour, is a two-time International team member of the Presidents Cup. He has won seven times on the Asian Tour, four of his victories were won on home soil.
- Lahiri overcame an incredible seven-shot deficit to become the eighth Indian to win his country’s National Open in 2015. He went on to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit that same year.
- The Indian has enjoyed impressive results at his country’s National Open, finishing in the top-five five times in his past 11 appearances.