New Delhi: A fired-up Scott Barr of Australia will look to exorcise the ghost of the Delhi Golf Club when he tees up at the SAIL-SBI Open, presented by Incredible India, Ministry of Tourism, here on Monday.
Barr came agonizingly close to a maiden Asian Tour title at last year`s event when he led by one shot with two holes remaining but his hopes ran aground with a costly triple bogey six on the penultimate par three hole.
The Singapore-based Australian eventually ended one shot shy of the play-off duo of Anirban Lahiri of India and Thailand`s Prom Meesawat. Lahiri subsequently won the title in extra time and will defend at the venerable Delhi course against a top line-up from the Asian Tour.
Multiple winners Gaganjeet Bhullar of India, Sweden`s Rikard Karlberg, who has won twice in India previously, and Zaykabar Myanmar Open champion Chawalit Plaphol of Thailand will be amongst the leading stars as the Asian Tour continues its milestone 10th season celebration after establishing itself as a players` organisation in 2004.
Local stars Shiv Kapur and Jyoti Randhawa, along with 25 of the top-61 players from the final 2012 Order of Merit, will also feature in the USD 300,000 SAIL-SBI Open, which is celebrating its sixth edition and is one of four Asian Tour tournaments staged in India.
Barr is determined to take another crack at the title.
"I played really well at the SAIL-SBI Open last year. Obviously, I`m going there again with the intention to play to my best ability, which I hope is good enough to put me in contention," said Barr, who finished 21st on the Merit list last season.
The Aussie knows the tree-lined Delhi course will punish the slightest of errant shots, as he discovered with such agony last year.
"I played pretty good the whole week but hit only one loose shot. We all know the Delhi Golf Club can tear you to pieces if you hit your ball a bit off line. Unfortunately that happened to me. I just hit one bad shot and was out of contention," recalled the 40-year-old Barr.
"I changed quite a bit in my game this season ? the way I`m swinging it, the putting style and the putter. I`ve been putting in quite an effort so hopefully it starts to pay off," Barr said.
American Ben Fox is also eager to launch a title run at the SAIL-SBI Open. Last season, he started his 2012 campaign with five straight top-10s, including a fourth place finish at the SAIL-SBI Open and earned the nickname "Ben 10" after the cartoon character.
However, the slightly-built Fox fell off the radar in the second half of the season after failing to adjust to changes made in his golf swing during the middle of the season.
"It is always a fun place to get back to. I`ve been struggling with the game in the last five or six months but the game is starting to get a little better. I`ll try to get comfortable on a course that I`ve played well in the past. Hopefully I can get some momentum and get back into the swing of things," said the 25-year-old American.
He is hopeful of regaining his "A" game despite missing the cut in the season-opening event in Myanmar two weeks ago.
"I feel like I`m starting to move in the right direction. My goal is to keep getting better and more comfortable and be contending week-to-week like early last year," he said.
"In the summer of last year, I went for some swing changes. It didn`t quite come together and I got into a bad groove. It was unfortunate because I had such a good start. I feel like I`ve taken the good and learned from it, so hopefully I can get back into contention and play the way which I should be playing."
First Published: Monday, March 04, 2013, 19:01