Tough challenge awaits Nirat at DGC: Ghei

Tough challenge awaits Nirat at DGC: Ghei New Delhi: Defending champion Chapchai Nirat of Thailand may have expressed his desire to re-write his own record in next week's SAIL Open but veteran Indian golfer Gaurav Ghei feels achieving the feat at the tricky Delhi Golf Club won't be a cakewalk.

Last year, the 26-year-old Nirat clinched an emphatic 11-stroke victory with a staggering 32-under 256 aggregate at the Classic Golf Resort at Manesar in Haryana and this year he has already declared his intention to break his 72-hole world record in the USD 300,000 event to be held here from March 30- April 2.

But Asian Tour regular Ghei feels it would take more than an impressive performance from Nirat to score 33-under-par at the DGC as expressed by the big-hitting Thai.

"I have read somewhere that Chapchai (Nirat) is aiming a 33-under-par score this year but I personally feel it would be a very difficult task because DGC is completely different from Classic Golf Resort," Ghei, who grew up playing at the DGC course, told reporters today.

"The course is going to play tough because the rough is just enough to give the players headache. I feel winning score this year would be much higher. I would personally settle for 20 strokes less than last year's winning score. The winning score would be something around 15 to 17-under," he said.

"But having said that the course looks in pretty good shape. The greens were a bit slow couple of weeks back but it has improved and is playing much faster now," he added.

Ghei said besides Nirat, Indians Jyoti Randhawa, Gaganjeet Bhullar and SSP Chowrasia are the players to watch out for in tournament.

"Chapchai had a phenomenal week last year. He won over Bhullar by 11 strokes. But personally I feel SSP (Chowrasia) and Jyoti will do well here. Presently, they are going through a lean patch and will be eager to prove themselves here," said the 41-year-old golfer who represented India on three occasions at the World Cup of Golf.

Besides Ghei, other Indians in the fray include 2002 Asian number one Randhawa, winner of the season-opening Asian Tour International Bhullar, Delhi pro and reigning Indian Open champion C Muniyappa apart from young talents Anirban Lahiri and Himmat Singh Rai.

Apart from Nirat, another Thai Thaworn Wiratchant, Australians Scott Hend, David Gleeson and Marcus Both, all winners on the Asian Tour, will also be seen in action in the tournament which has a staggering 156 entries this year.

However, ace Indian golfer Jeev Milkha Singh would give the tournament a miss as he is presently nursing a shoulder injury.

"The field is very strong this year. We have 29 Asian Tour winners taking part in the event. Wiratchant himself has 11 Asian Tour wins under his belt," said veteran Indian Amandeep Johl, who is also the spokesperson for SAIL.