It is not often you get to see the cream of Indian golf on home turf. The Hero Indian Open is one such occasion where you get to see majority of top Indian golfers in action. Come spring, it is time for the Hero Indian Open.
The stakes high for the Indian golfers. Apart from the handsome price money, it is a co-sanctioned event on the Asian and the European Tour. The flagship event of Indian golf—which is also the longest-running international event in India—will be held from March 19 to 22 and carry a prize purse of $1.75 million.
Almost all top Indian golfers, including past champions such as S.S.P. Chawrasia (2016 and 2017), Anirban Lahiri (2015) and three-time winner Jyoti Randhawa (2000, 2006 and 2007), will be seen in action in this edition of the Indian Open. Seasoned champions such as Shiv Kapur, Rashid Khan, Rahil Gangjee, Shubhankar Sharma and many others will also be in the fray at Gary Player layout at the DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurugram.
With this being the Olympic year, it is expected that two Indians will make the grade. The tussle for those two spots is intense and there is a long list of players, who can grab those spots, even though Rashid, Khan, Udayan Mane and Shubhankar Sharma are the current top three. Khan is way ahead of the pack, ranked highest Indian in the World Golf rankings at 180. He is followed by Udayan Mane who has won the last three events on the domestic tour and risen to 241 in the world. Shubhankar Sharma follows him at 271and Shiv Kapoor (280) is the nearest fourth in contention.
Apart from doing well on home turf, the Tokyo 2020 appeared on top of the minds of the possible contenders.”Yes, it is on my mind. I have had three back to back victories recently. A lot of things have changed. I am doing a lot of small things well. There is a change in my game and attitude,” said Mane who is feeling confident about his game ahead of Tokyo Olympics. “Fitness is main priority,” he said revealing the changes he is bringing into his practice and training routines.
Shiv Kapur has to come up with some big performances if he wants to overtake both mane and Sharma. Kapur said his entire scheduling and planning is focused towards Tokyo as of now. “However, my schedule of four weeks on tour and four weeks off it have gone haywire, courtesy coronavirus. I had to change a lot of plans. The next big one for me is the New Zealand Open and I am looking forward to it.”
The Indian Golf Union president Lt. Gen (retd.) D. Anbu said the IGU, though has no role in team selection for Tokyo Olympics as it is purely based on world rankings, is working with the Union ministry of sports and youth affairs to ensure a smooth journey for the players likely to make it to the Olympics. He said the union requested ministry funds for kitting, pre-Olympic practice events and other necessary support.
Indian golfers have established themselves as strong challengers on the Asian Tour and have been regular winners. Despite not adding any silverware in 2019, the Indian golfers finished runner-up and in top three numerous times.