New Delhi: Indian and international stars are poised to light up the $400,000 Panasonic Open India at the venerable Delhi Golf Club (DGC) next week.
Two-time Asian Tour No.1 Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand will headline the elite field alongside former Order of Merit champion Jyoti Randhawa of India, Marcus Both of Australia and Prom Meesawat from Thailand.
Indian stalwarts Gaganjeet Bhullar, a five-time Asian Tour winner, Rashid Khan, Chiragh Kumar, who finished tied second at the recent Macao Open, and Rahil Gangjee, who finished tied second here last year, will also feature in the popular Asian Tour event.
Gangjee and Mithun Perera of Sri Lanka lost in a play-off to S.S.P. Chawrasia of India last year but are determined to bounce back at the event celebrating its fifth edition.
The straight-shooting Perera has enjoyed a stellar season so far highlighted by a tied third result at the Indian Open which was also played here.
Perera, son of Nandasena who was a familiar name on the old Asian circuit in the 1980s and 1990s, currently sits in 17th position on the Order of Merit and hopes to win a first Asian Tour title here.
"I haven't won anything on the Asian Tour yet but I strongly believe that my first win will come at the DGC. I need some luck to win. I always stay out of trouble on the course so I just need some putts to go my way and I'll taste that first victory," said Perera.
"I lost in a play-off last year but I always have good memories at the Panasonic Open India. It is like my home course because I always play well there. Accuracy is the strongest part of my game so that's why I've always played well there."
After struggling with his driving accuracy this year, Gangjee is excited to return to the tree-lined DGC where most players avoid using the big stick due to the narrow fairways.
"I'm playing on one of my favourite courses and I can't wait to play in the event. I like golf courses where you have to work the ball and where you don't just blast it. At Delhi, the long hitters don't have an advantage and that's good because I'm a medium range hitter," said Gangjee.
He hopes to put on a good showing after going through an uncharacteristic run of poor form.
"I had eight missed cuts so overall I don't think I'm playing well. Last year was my best year but this year has been pretty bad even though I feel like I've been playing okay. It is always nice to play at home with your family around. Familiar surrounding is always good," he said.