I`ll follow footsteps of Payne Stewart in Indian Open:Thompson

PTI| Updated: Nov 05, 2013, 21:28 PM IST

New Delhi: PGA Tour winner Michael Thompson of America said he will look to follow the footsteps of his compatriot and three-time major winner, Late Payne Stewart when he tees off at the 50th Hero Indian Open on Thursday.

Stewart, who won eleven PGA Tour events, including three majors before his untimely death at the age of 42 in a plane crash in 1999, had won the Indian Open in 1981 and Thompson said it was "surreal" to play the 50th edition of the same event.

"I would look to follow Payne Stewart. As a seven year old, I remember getting his autograph and to play here where he played and was so successful is surreal. It is an honour to play the 50th edition of the tournament and I would look forward to performing to the best and beat a strong field," Thompson told reporters.

Asked about the Delhi golf course, Thompson said: "In US, we have to use a lot of drivers but here, I guess it would be 3-iron and 8-iron or 9-iron. It is gonna be fun as well as challenging to play here."

From languishing at bottom of the leaderboard at Northern Trust Open with a score of 16-over 158, Thomson shot a nine-under 271 to win the Honda Classic in Florida and the American golfer said it was getting back to basics, which helped.

"After a low last week, I had gone to the basics. It can be a grind sometimes, golf can wear you down. I mean, it has been great and a dream to be a golfer. But finishing last at Riviera was bad for me. I practiced my tail off and went to Honda Classic without any expectations," said Thompson, who had three top-10 finish at PGA tour after the title win.

Robert Rock of England, a two-time winner in Europe, is also playing in India for the first time and said he was happy to be a part of Hero Indian Open, which is being held for the 50th year now.

"I am happy to come here. I haven`t played in the course here but from what I have seen in TV, it is a different course, more traditional. I am looking forward to the event. The fact that it is the 50th edition is amazing. I don`t know how many we have surviving back there," said the 36-year-old.

Talking about his career, he said: "I waited for more than 10 years to win my first title. Playing in the field of Tiger Woods and winning in Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship was a great experience.

"But then onwards, I got chance to play in big events and it is difficult to be up for the task. I decided to change my game a bit and by the end of this year, my form turned around," said Rock, who made three top-10 finishes ever since winning the title in 2012.