Muniyappa, Atwal gear up for Avantha Masters

Muniyappa, Atwal gear up for Avantha Masters Gurgaon: Relishing the prospect of playing a European and Asian Tour co-sanctioned event on home turf, C Muniyappa and Arjun Atwal are all geared up for a title assault at the USD 2.1 million Avantha Masters here next week.

Indian Open champion Muniyappa, and Atwal, a former Asian Tour number one, will spearhead the local challenge alongside two-time Asian number one Jeev Milkha Singh and Jyoti Randhawa at the DLF Golf and Country Club in the inaugural event also sanctioned by the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI).

Muniyappa, who earned one rupee a day as a caddie during his youth, is looking forward to returning to the venue which launched him to fame.

"It'll be nice to get back to DLF as I won there last year. I'm looking forward to it," he said.

"I played a couple of big events last year and even though I missed the cut in China (HSBC Champions) and Singapore (Barclays Singapore Open ), I feel that I'm getting better because I'm seeing and playing with bigger players and that has given me more confidence playing on the Asian Tour," he added.

The US-based Atwal, who won the Order of Merit in 2003, is hoping to display the kind of form which helped him clinch seven Asian Tour titles. His last victory was at the 2008 Maybank Malaysian Open.

Atwal yearns to return to the winners' circle, he is also aware of the challenges that lie ahead.

"With the way the Asian Tour has grown in the last few years, the prize money has increased and more tournaments are being played, it's only a matter of time before more guys breakthrough and win big tournaments (internationally)," said Atwal.

All eyes will also be on India's rising stars Gaganjeet Bhullar, the 2009 Indonesia President Invitational champion and Anirban Lahiri, who is still hunting for his maiden Asian Tour victory.