New Delhi: Former winners Arjun Atwal, Jyoti Randhawa and Anirban Lahiri will lead the host country's challenge in the 51st Hero Indian Open which will also see Chinese star Liang Wen-chong returning to the event for the first time since his memorable victory in the 2008 edition.
Seven years ago at the venerable Delhi Golf Club, Liang Liang fired the Asian Tour's first ever 12-under-par 60 round.
In his attempt to hoist the prestigious trophy again, Liang will miss the Chinese New Year celebrations with his family when he heads out to the sub-continent for the USD 1.5 million event which is sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour for the first time from February 19 to 22.
Liang, the 2007 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, will form part of an elite field which includes two-time Hero Indian Open winner Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand, Angelo Que of the Philippines, defending champion Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh and Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain.
Firoz Ali and David Gleeson of Australia will also feature in India's showpiece golf event. Other top names include Anirban Lahiri, last year's Players' Player of the Year, and Gaganjeet Bhullar.
Liang, a three-time Asian Tour winner, is looking forward to challenging for the title again. His opening 12-unde-par 60 has since been matched by Lee Westwood and Brandt Snedeker at the 2011 Thailand Golf Championship and 2012 WGC-HSBC Champions in China respectively.
"I have a lot of good memories in India. I shot a 12-under-par 60 there which is the joint lowest 18-hole score record on the Asian Tour. I'm very proud of that," said the 35-year-old Liang.
"It has been a long time since I returned to India so I'm looking forward to it. I don?t think the Delhi course will change much. I imagine that the course is still very narrow," he joked.
He hopes that his decision to be away from his family during the Chinese New Year will be rewarded with another title run as he seeks his fourth Asian Tour victory.
The Hero Indian Open has been synonymous with the rise of golf in India, and has been at the forefront of unearthing some of the best golfing talents that the country has seen, including the likes of Atwal, Jeev Milkha Singh, Randhawa and Shiv Kapur.
It has also attracted an impressive array of international players in the past, with Ryder Cup stars Peter Hanson and Edoardo Molinari, Englishman James Morrison, two-time European Tour winner Richie Ramsay, Swedes Rikard Karlberg and Daniel Chopra, as well as victorious Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley.