Gurugram: Europe’s Ryder Cup captain, Thomas Bjorn will become the first-ever current Ryder Cup captain to make an appearance, when he tees off at the Hero Indian Open next week.
Bjorn, winner of 21 titles worldwide, and runner-up three times at Majors, will be among the international starcast from over 30 countries at the event.
The field includes six players from the World’s Top-100 who are all set to battle it out at the 2018 Hero Indian Open. The field includes stars from 31 countries across the world and has amongst them a plethora of Order of Merit winners, past champions, Ryder Cup captains and a Major champion.
Interestingly Bjorn will not be the only Ryder Cup captain in the field, as Darren Clarke, the 2011 Open champion, has also confirmed his presence.
Clarke led the European Ryder Cup team in 2016, while Bjorn will be at helm for the 2018 Ryder Cup in France.
Meanwhile, as the Hero Indian Open, which is one of the oldest events in the continent, comes closer many of the top players have shown excellent form in the run up to the event. The HIO will be played at the Gary Player layout at the DLF Golf and Country Club from March 8 to 11, 2018.
One of the biggest draws in the event, Emiliano Grillo of Argentina, a teammate India’s own Anirban Lahiri at the 2017 Presidents Cup, is coming fresh of a Top-10 finish last week on the PGA Tour. Both Grillo, a past winner on the PGA Tour, and Lahiri are flying in straight from the PGA National in Florida where they played last week.
Grillo, who was in Top-20 of three of the four Majors in 2016, is looking very strong once again 2018. In the current wrap-around season he already has two Top-10s on the PGA Tour, besides another T-12 in Mexico.
India’s Lahiri is also coming off two Top-10s in CIMB Classic and CJ Bridges Cup besides T-14 at Mayakoba, Mexico.
Even as the international players hold the spotlight, there will be considerable interest in India’s latest star, Shubhankar Sharma, who also features in his maiden World Golf Championships in Mexico this week. Shubhankar won two titles in the first two months of 2018, at the Joburg Open and the Malaysian Championships.
The men in form on the European Tour, Joost Luiten, winner of the NBO Oman Open, as also Chris Wood, who was second at the Oman event and T-13 in Qatar Masters, alongside England’s ever-smiling and hugely popular, Andrew Johnston, T-12 in Oman, are all looking forward to the event. Luiten was also T-12 in Malaysia, where Shubhankar emerged champion.
“I have heard so much about India and Indian golf that I can’t wait to get there,” said Andrew Johnston, one of most popular players on the European Tour.
Johnston, who has also had a stint on the US PGA Tour, added: “I simply love Indian food and Shiv Kapur has promised to take me out for an Indian meal and I am looking forward to that. As for golf, Indians like SSP (Chawrasia) and Shubhankar (Sharma) are doing so well, so it will be great to play in India.”
Also looking forward to India is Chris Wood, whose six-foot-six inch height will make for a great contrast as he stands alongside the reigning two-time Hero Indian Open winner diminutive SSP Chawrasia. The two have played together often on European Tour and were also pitted against each other in the singles at the 2016 EurAsia Cup in Malaysia.
On the Indian side, the virtual Who’s who of Indian golf will be present and that includes the two players who have accounted for the last three Hero Indian Open titles – Anirban Lahiri in 2015 and Chawrasia in 2016 and 2017. Also present is Siddikur Rahman winner in 2013.
All the five Indian winners on 2017 Asian and European Tours, Shiv Kapur (3 titles), Chawrasia, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Ajeetesh Sandhu and Shubhankar are present in the field.
The field also includes the last three winners of the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings — Gavin Green (2017), Scott Hend (2016) and Anirban Lahiri (2015).
As the flagship event of Indian golf, will be played at the Gary Player layout at the DLF Golf and Country Club from March 8 to 11.
Facts & figures
† Countries: 31
† Edition: 54th
† Prize money: US $ 1.75 million dollars
† Players in the Top-100: Joost Luiten (68); Julian Suri (70), Shubhankar Sharma (75), Emiliano Grillo (76), Anirban Lahiri (79), Chris Wood (91)
† Past champions: SSP Chawrasia (2017, 2016), Anirban Lahiri (2015), SIddikur Rahman (2013), David Gleeson (2011), Liang Wen-chong (2008), Jyoti Randhawa (2007, 2006, 2000), Thongchai Jaidee (2001), Arjun Atwal (1999).