25 March 2019: The Hero Indian Open is a uniquely important celebration of golf in India. The tournament, co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour, is an acknowledgement of the growing prominence of Indian golf on the world stage. The DLF Golf & Country Club offers the perfect setting for a strong test of all-round skills with the Gary Player course demanding discipline at every corner on the layout.
Scottish Open champion Brandon Stone and six-time European Tour winner Bernd Weisberger underline the importance of the event on the international calendar. Anirban Lahiri and Shubhankar Sharma lead a strong contingent of Indian golfers looking to ride their way to the international stage on a familiar course.
Defending champion Matt Wallace hasn’t returned to India to defend his title this week as he is at the Dell Technologies Match Play event at the Austin Country Club.
Both Shubhankar and Anirban seemed to have found a new gear last week. At the Maybank Championship in Malaysia, Shubhankar showed some of his best in recent weeks with scores of 68 in the second round and 70 on Sunday. He finished T30 at 5-under 283.
Incidentally, Anirban also finished T30 in the Valspar Championship, saving his best for the last. The 31-year-old made four birdies in five holes from the 11th to record a 68, the best score on Sunday at Innisbrook. With his ranking down to 191, Anirban is keen to put his season back on the rails with a strong showing this week.
The tournament also affords space for four young amateurs to try and make a mark. Anant Singh Ahlawat, Varun Parikh, Kartik Sharma and Rayhan Thomas will have an opportunity to mix it up with the big boys and get a good sense of their progress.
19-year-old Thomas already has two professional titles to his credit. His victory last year in the King Hamad Trophy at the Royal Golf Club in Bahrain turned heads and caused waves around the golf world.
Western India Amateur Golf Championship winner Kartik doubled up with a fine victory in the New South Wales men’s Amateur Golf Championship in Australia, earlier this January.
Parikh won the Tamil Nadu men’s amateur golf championship in Coimbatore last year and was part of the Indian team at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championships.
Anant is the top-ranked Indian amateur on the IGU rankings and was the winner of the 118th All India Golf Championship in December last year.
The field also contains a host of other Indian professional golfers. In-form Gaganjeet Bhullar, Shiv Kapur and SSP Chawrasia will all have an opportunity to make a big splash this week. Rahil Gangjee is also in action.
Khalin Joshi and Viraj Madappa lead out the younger generation. Ajeetesh Sandhu will look to add wheels to his ever-improving profile. S Chikkarangappa, fresh off a top twenty finish at the Maybank Championship will arrive in Gurugram with his confidence high.
Rashid Khan and Honey Baisoya have been playing impressive golf as they continue to showcase some solid results even as they battle the mighty at the Delhi Golf Club for their rightful access to the facilities there.
Shamim Khan, Jyoti Randhawa, Udayan Mane, Mukesh Kumar, Om Prakash Chouhan, Tapy Ghai, Akshay Sharma, Aman Raj, Syed Saqib Ahmed, M Dharma, Amardip Sinh Malik, Shankar Das, Abhijit Singh Chadha, Digvijay Singh, Karandeep Kochhar, Harendra Gupta, Veer Ahlawat, Kapil Kumar, Divyanshu Bajaj, Gaurav Pratap Singh and Yashas Chandra are all in the field.