Lahiri faces tough test in bid to regain Indian Open title

Defending champion Anirban Lahiri’s bid to regain the Hero Indian Open crown will face stiff resistance from a bevy of star golfers, including three-time Major champion Padraig Harrington, at the tricky Delhi Golf Course here tomorrow.

With four title wins under his belt at the DGC, Lahiri will look to execute his winning formula once again when he leads the home challenge in one of the strongest-ever fields, comprising big names from both Europe and Asia, during the 52nd edition of the National open.

“This is one of the events which you want to keep defending all your life. I played so much at this course and also successfully defended the SAIL-SBI Open. It can be done. The whole exercise is to put yourself in the position again come Sunday,” said Lahiri.

“Over the years if you have a strategy at Delhi Golf Club, you don’t mess with it. It is hard enough playing here so you stick with it. I won’t reinvent a new strategy because my plan works. I just need to execute it better and more efficiently,” said World No 5.

The event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour will see Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Marcus Fraser, in-form Scott Hend of Australia, who won in Thailand last week, and Peter Uihlein and Paul Dunne, who had stellar amateur careers before turning to paid ranks.

The USD 1.66 million event will also see in action all top Indian golfers, including Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal, SSP Chawrasia, Shiv Kapur, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Rashid Khan, Rahil Gangjee, Himmat Rai and Chiragh Kumar, among others.

The roster of former champions includes Siddikur Rahman (Bangladesh), Thaworn Wiratchant (Thailand), Mardan Mamat (Singapore) and C Muniyappa.

Irishman Harrington, who last played in India at the Amateur Golf Championship of India in Calcutta, is hoping for a successful debut at the Hero Indian Open.

“It is a strong field. A lot of intimidating factor off the tees but the goal is conservative off the tees and aggressive attacking the greens. The goal is to have a chance and feel the pressure on Sunday,” he said.

Chawrasia, four-time runner-up at this iconic event, will also look to go one better at the course, where he has won twice, and was second in the last two editions of the Hero Indian Open.

“I have very good memories of this course. Last year I played very well, except the final round as my putting let me down. I am playing well now, though in the last two or three events I didn’t play all that well. I have worked on my putting and I hope to do well.”