Jeev, Bhullar spearhead Indian challenge in Avantha Masters

Updated: Feb 10, 2010, 19:14 PM IST

Gurgaon: Battle-hardened Jeev Milkha Singh
and in-form Gaganjeet Bhullar will spearhead the strong Indian
challenge in the USD 2.1 million Avantha Masters golf
tournament which tees off here on Thursday.

With Europe`s creme de la creme giving the tri-sanctioned
event a miss because of lack of breathing space between this
event and next week`s WGC-Accenture Matchplay in Arizona, the
onus of continental representation is now on the likes of
Darren Clarke, Richie Ramsay and David Howell.

Asian Tour stalwarts like Thaworn Wiratchant and regular
visitors like Liang Wen-chong, Prayad Marksaeng, Chapchai
Nirat and Mardan Mamat would fancy their chance as well but
the Indians would be justified in believing that they would
have the last laugh on Sunday.

At least nine Indians would be in the fray who know what
it takes to win on the Asian Tour and then there would be
youngsters like Himmat Rai and Anirban Lahiri, who would hope
to conjure up something special over the next four days for
their maiden victory.

The Indian contingent would include three former Asian
number ones and the `Big Three` of Indian golf -- Jeev, Jyoti
Randhawa and Arjun Atwal.

Besides, the field would also include Asian Tour winners
Shiv Kapur, C Muniyappa, Bhullar, SSP Chowrasia, Gaurav Ghei
and Rahil Gangjee.

Except US, Jeev has had success everywhere he played but
his home record is not exactly spectacular, something he plans
to set right this weekend.

"I have not done too well at home but I`m working
together with my coach this week and feeling good about my
form. It`s always nice to win at home and I`ll go out there
and do my best. Let`s see how it goes," said Jeev.

Bhullar, on his part, has been in sensational form since
the second half last year.

The Kapurthala-pro qualified for the British Open last
year and then went on to win his maiden Asian Tour title in
the Indonesia President Invitational.

Already eyeing Europe, Bhullar got off to a perfect start
in the new year, firing a sizzling eight-under 64 in the final
round for his come-from-behind victory in the Asian Tour
International in Bangkok on Sunday.

All eyes will be on the strapping professional as he
tees off at the DLF Golf and Country Club tomorrow.

"I`m looking forward it. It`s a big event. I love the DLF
course as I`ve won there twice. Going back playing in front of
the home crowd will give me a great sense of achievement,"
said the youngster.

Eight-time Asian Tour winner Randhawa has not been in the
best of form in recent times but his grasp of the course and
vast experience would stand him in good stead.

Likewise, Atwal would also hope to end his title drought
to put behind the shoulder injury that blighted his career in
recent times.

Among others, Muniyappa won his maiden Asian Tour title
here last year and the caddie-turned-pro is eager to have
another shot at glory.