Manila: Indian golfer Rahil Gangjee, who came close to ending his title drought at the Kensville Challenge at home last month, will be hoping to draw on that form when he tees up at the ICTSI Philippine Open which starts on Thursday.
Gangjee, however, missed the cut last week at Myanmar Open and will be up against a very strong field at the USD 300,000 Philippine Open -- Asia`s oldest national Open – which includes as many as eight Indian players.
Gaganjeet Bhullar, two-time winner on Asian tour, will be looking to grab some early honours, as he has done in past two seasons winning events at the start of the season.
Anirban Lahiri, who won Panasonic Open India last year, is back from a meditation course, and Himmat Rai, winner of ISPS Handa Singapore Classic in 2011, are also in the field.
"I have had a good start with second places in Q-School Final Stage and Kensville Challenge and I hoping to build on that. I will be back in India for the Avantha Masters next week and then I will shift to US for the Nationwide," said Gangjee, whose lone win on Asian Tour came in 2004.
Chiragh Kumar, topper on the Indian PGTI Tour, Sujjan Singh, seasoned Digvijay Singh and young Ajeetesh Sandhu, one of the only two Indians - Bhullar being the other - to make cut last week, will also be in the fray.
In addition, Kunal Bhasin, Australian of Indian origin, also tees off tomorrow after regaining his card through Qualifying School in January.
Filipino golfing great Frankie Minoza, who played his Pro-AM round with his country`s world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, is hoping to strike it rich at the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club. Minoza, 52, is the winner of his home Open in 2007 and 1998.
Japanese star Tetsuji Hiratsuka, second on the Order of Merit last year, last week`s Zaykabar Myanmar Open winner Kieran Pratt of Australia, countryman Adam Blyth, former Philippine Open champions Angelo Que and Elmer Salvador and Bangladeshi Siddikur, making his season`s debut, will be amongst those looking to dethrone title holder Berry Henson of the United States.
No fewer than 38 players in this week`s starting field of 150 have won tournaments on the Asian Tour, signaling the strength of the ICTSI Philippine Open which will be beamed live on the Asian Tour`s global television platform which reaches over 200 nations.
Siddikur, the first Bangladeshi winner on the Asian Tour and has finished top-10 in the past two seasons on the Order of Merit, is itching to launch his 2012 campaign at the ICTSI Philippine Open.
He went to the United States during the season break for golf lessons with the hope of improving his driving distances where he ranked a lowly 69th with an average of 266 yards last season.