Gurgaon: India's top golfers such as Vani Kapoor and Sharmila Nicollet will be teeing off alongside some seasoned professionals from Europe and Asia in the Hero Women's Indian Open starting on Friday.
While the reigning champion Gwladys Nocera of France is back to defend her title at the new Gary Player-designed DLF Golf and Country Club, a host of other stars, including former champion Thidapa Suwannapura of Thailand, British duo Trish Johnson and Melissa Reid and US star attraction Cheyenne Woods will also be in the fray.
Gwladys, currently occupying the fifth spot on the LET Order of Merit, has been in rich vein of form, and is expected to give an encore after clinching her first Women's Indian Open title at the Delhi Golf Club (DGC) last year.
The French professional will, however, face a strong challenge from Melissa Reid (winner of the 2015 Turkish Airlines Open), Thidapa Suwannapura (winner ? Hero Women's Indian Open 2013) and Cheyenne Woods, the niece of American great Tiger Woods, who is on her maiden visit to India.
"I have always wanted to come to India and I am delighted to be here. I am excited about the Hero Women's Indian Open and will try to do my best over the three days of play. I have a played few holes on the course and it is playing well. It is a bit tricky but that only makes it more interesting," she said.
The tournament, which is tri-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour, the Ladies Asian Golf Tour and the Women's Golf Association of India, will feature 114 players from 31 countries fighting it out for supremacy.
Since its inception in 2007, the tournament has seen six different winners in eight editions -- Taiwan's Tseng Ya Ni in 2007, Thailand's Pornanong Phatlum in 2008, 2009, and 2012, Dame Laura Davies in 2010, Sweden's Caroline Hedwall in 2011, Thailand's Thidapa Suwannapura in 2013 and Gwladys Nocera last year.
The Indian challenge will be spearheaded by Vani Kapoor and Hero Motocorp sponsored Sharmila Nicollet. Vani has been in stellar form this season and leads the Hero Order of Merit.
Talking to the media, she said, "The Hero Women's Indian Open is one of the most important tournaments in my calendar and it is a privilege to play alongside the likes of Cheyenne Woods, Melissa Reid and other great players."
Nicollet is in good form post her win at the Jaypee Greens last month and will be eager to claim her first victory on the LET. Another Indian golfer to watch out for will be Vaishavi Sinha. Vaishavi finished fifth last year and will be eyeing the coveted trophy this time around.