King Karlberg targets Hero Indian Open defence

Updated: Oct 05, 2011, 18:46 PM IST

New Delhi: Slightly off-colour right now, defending champion Rikard Karlberg of Sweden feels he will be back to winning ways when he tees up to retain the Hero Indian Open golf tournament trophy next week.

Karlberg won two Asian Tour titles at the Delhi Golf Club in his rookie season last year and will be gearing up to defend his title at the delhi Golf Course from October 13 to 16.

However, the Swede will face a stern challenge from seven players from the top-10 of the Order of Merit in the USD 1.25 million event, the highest prize money on offer in a full field Asian Tour event this year.

Jbe Kruger of South Africa, who is still seeking a maiden Asian Tour victory, Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand, winner of the SAIL Open in India and Lin Wen-tang of Chinese Taipei are tipped to contend in India`s national championship.

Korea`s rising star Baek Seuk-hyun, who finished second behind Karlberg last year, Siddikur of Bangladesh, who is fourth on the Order of Merit, and Australian Marcus Both will also be in the elite cast.

Karlberg has yet to replicate his successful 2010 campaign, with a tied 14th placing at the recent Macau Open presented by Cityneon being his best result so far. But he is hopeful a return to his favourite hunting ground will turn his fortunes around.

"My game has been a little bit like last year. I started good in Asia and Europe but now I`ll concentrate more on the Asian Tour. I feel like I need to get back in the groove. It takes a while to warm up but I feel good and I feel very positive of the future," said Karlberg.

The 25-year-old believes his game is well suited for the immensely challenging Delhi Golf Club, which demands straight driving and accuracy due to the tight tree-line fairways.

"My golf game is improving but sometimes you don`t get the results right away. I feel I`m hitting it more consistent so I know I`ll do better when we come to tougher courses," he said.

PTI