Queenslander Scott Hend hopes to continue his affinity with Asia when he challenges for back-to-back victories at the historic Hero Indian Open which starts today.
The big-hitting Hend, who claimed his 10th Asian Tour title in Malaysia last week, is looking to taste success in India for the first time in his career when he takes on the challenging Gary Player-designed course at the DLF Golf and Country Club.
“To win here in India – with a lot of Indian friends – it would be special because in terms of national Opens, this is such a prestigious tournament,” Hend said.
“It has been going for such a long time and to get your name on that trophy would be an honour and a privilege.”
Hailed as the most successful international player on the Asian Tour, Hend had claimed all his 10 victories in Asia, including three titles in Thailand, two in Macau and one each in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei and Singapore.
Reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion Shubhankar Sharma will have another shot at fulfilling his childhood ambitions as he takes aim at adding his name to the illustrious list of Indian winners at the US$1.75 million event.
The 22-year-old Sharma, the highest-ranked Indian on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), set a new course record after firing an eight-under-par 64 during the second round of the Hero Indian Open last year.
The talented Indian held a share of the lead heading into the final round last year but would eventually close with a disappointing 75 to settle for a tied-seventh place finish.
Armed with a more mature mindset and a better game plan this time around, Sharma hopes to redeem himself by putting up another title charge in his national Open.
“I am a lot more relaxed this time around and more focused so this year will be different,” Sharma said.
Anirban Lahiri, the 2015 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, is thrilled to be back home for the first time this year after honing his skills on the PGA Tour, where he has made five cuts in his last seven starts so far this season.
Lahiri, who won the Indian Open in 2015, endured a long haul 19-hour flight from Florida before arriving in New Delhi yesterday morning. He will have to fight off jet-lag to turn his season around at the event which he has enjoyed several impressive results in the past.
“I have managed to single out the problems which need to be fixed and I just need to pull it together and stay focused,” Lahiri said.
“I need to clean up my process on the weekend rounds. The problem with me is I always try too hard and losing my rhythm in that process.”
A stellar 144-men field from 28 countries will be vying for top honours at the Hero Indian Open, which celebrates its 55th edition this week.