Several Asian Tour winners in Indian Open field
Bengaluru: No fewer than 40 Asian Tour winners, including hometown heroes Anirban Lahiri and C Muniyappa, will feature in a star-studded field for the USD 1.25 million Hero Indian Open scheduled here next week.
Title holder David Gleeson of Australia will lead the elite cast at the Karnataka Golf Association course from October 18-21.
Eleven players from the top-20 of the current Asian Tour`s Order of Merit will tee up in India`s flagship championship which is being played in the city of Bengaluru for the first time in its history.
Muniyappa, winner of the Hero Indian Open in 2009, will be hoping to return with a vengeance after being sidelined by a lengthy back injury. He hails from Bengaluru and was a forecaddie at the KGA course during his childhood.
Lahiri, winner of the SAIL-SBI Open on home soil earlier this season, will also be looking to thrill his hometown fans despite some recent inconsistent form which has seen him miss the cut in two of his last three tournaments.
He will be hoping to bounce back from a missed cut showing in Macau when he tees up at the KGA course. Like many Indians, Lahiri treats the event as his fifth Major.
"Bengaluru is my hometown and it`ll be nice if I do really well there. Again, I`ve got to keep pushing myself and move in the right direction from where I am today. Hopefully, I can do that," said Lahiri.
The Hero Indian Open will also feature former champion Jyoti Randhawa of India while other notable names include Thailand`s Chapchai Nirat, who holds the world scoring record for 72-holes of 32-under-par 256 set in India in 2009.
Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand, fourth on the Order of Merit and the 2005 Hero Indian Open winner, will be one of the favourites next week where he will aim for a record 15th career title in Bengaluru.
This season`s winners -- Digvijay Singh and Gaganjeet Bhullar of India, Australian Scott Hend and Singaporean Mardan Mamat -- will also eye their second wins of the year in a field which will feature players from no fewer than 24 nationalities.
The Hero Indian Open has also attracted three invited players from the European Tour, Ryder Cup star Peter Hanson of Sweden, Scotland`s Richie Ramsay and England`s James Morrison.
Gleeson, one of Australia`s top performers in Asia where he has won three times, has endured a relatively quiet season in 2012. But he is looking forward to his defence of the Hero Indian Open title after signing off from the Venetian Macau Open with a seven-under-par 64.
"Whenever you go back to a tournament which you`ve won before, there`s always a good vibe and feeling. I heard the golf course is good and I`m going to a new city and that`s always good fun," he said.
Among the young guns to watch out for next week include Filipino Miguel Tabuena, Thailand`s Thitiphun Chuayprakong, who was in contention at the Venetian Macau Open, and Arnond Vongvanij, England`s James Byrne and Vietnam`s Michael Tran.