Bengaluru: In-form golfers Anirban Lahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar will lead the Indian challenge in the 49th edition of Indian Open which ventures into Southern India for the first time in its nearly half a century history.
Lahiri, a winner on the Asian Tour this season, also made the cut and registered a hole-in-one at the British Open, while Bhullar, a three-time winner on Asian Tour, was second at the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters in Malaysia two weeks` ago and won in Taipei this week.
The duo along with Shiv Kapur will join a star-studded field, headlined by two of the hottest players on the European Tour over the last month -- Swede Peter Hanson and Richie Ramsay of Scotland -- when the USD 1.25 million event begins here from October 18.
The oldest-running sports event in India, and one of the flagship events on the Asian Tour, the Hero India Open, will also feature England`s James Morrison, another European Tour winner.
The Hero Indian Open, which was held for the first time in 1964, has previously been held only in National Capital Region (Delhi Golf Club, Classic Golf resort and the DLF Golf and Country Club) and the Royal Calcutta Golf Club.
Pawan Munjal, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Hero MotoCorp Ltd said: "Hero MotoCorp has supported golf for more than 15 years now. We have seen the game grow from humble beginnings to being a major sport in India.
"I have always believed that we have to take big-ticket golf to other cities for the game to attract more followers in the country. And I am indeed happy that this year`s edition is being played in Bengaluru. I am sure the Hero Indian Open will go a long way in drawing more youngsters to the game.
"This year`s field already looks very exciting with some of the top names confirming their participation, and I am sure more marquee players will be sending in their consent in the coming weeks. I do look forward to be in Bengaluru in October to savor some top-class golfing action."
With many young guns breaking through the ranks on the Asian Tour, Digvijay said that maintaining his fitness will be the key to staying competitive at the highest level.
"I`ve been working out a lot with my coach. The last two months have been very rigorous and intense. We wake at 4.30am every morning, barring just one day in a week which has been very tough. Physically I`m feeling stronger and fitter now, so that`s definitely paying off," he said.
Among other Indians, in-form Bhullar will be the man to watch after he defeated Thai veteran Thaworn Wiratchant, who holds a record of 14 Asian Tour victories, at the weather-shortened Yeangder Tournament Players Championship in Taipei on Monday.
"It was my fighting spirit as I told myself that I`ve got to win the tournament no matter what happens and I knew I was playing well. This victory means a lot to me as it gives you a lot of boost and a two-year exemption on the Asian Tour," said Bhullar.
"I guess the second half of the season is really packed. I`m going to play like 13-14 events in a row and mentally I`m already prepared for that. I`m looking forward to playing some good golf," said Bhullar, who moved to fifth place on the Order of Merit with winnings of USD 209,046.
The top six players on the Merit list will feature in the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open including top-ranked Marcus Fraser of Australia, who leads with USD 448,710, followed by Jbe Kruger who trails in second place by over USD 8,000.