Defending champion Christine Wolf, former winners Camille Chevalier, Aditi Ashok, challengers Meghan MacLaren and Tvesa Malik will lead the fiercely combative star-studded field at the Hero Women's Indian Open which tees off at DLF Golf and Country Club here on Thursday as the Ladies European Tour returns to India after three years, away.
Talking to media persons here on Tuesday, the champions and the contenders promised to give their best to win this coveted trophy.
Olympian Aditi Ashok, who became the first Indian to win the HWIO in 2016 was candid in her comments: saying that she has been playing for the 9th week in a row and so "I'm a bit tired, I guess a bit jet-lagged. But I'm just gonna try and conserve my energy for this week because it is four rounds. I'm used to it being a three-round event! It's like a tough walk out there too, and you need a lot mental energy to play this golf course. So, I'm just going to try and focus on that so that I have the best physical and mental state for those five hours every day.
I think as a golfer, obviously I've changed a lot, since I last played here in 2017. I think just the level, the skills I have. Like I felt I had a great short game when I used to play in India and then when I got to the LPGA, I realized everyone has a great short game. I think there's always pressure. My first year on LET, although I'd finished top ten when I was 14, I felt like I had something to prove. Because I knew that back home and a lot of little girls would be watching.
I used to come to this event and I wanted to win because I had never seen an Indian girl win. So I feel like that's a big thing to have and girls can see that an Indian has won this event and they can win this and they can play on Tour. I'm basically homegrown, I've lived here, and played here all my life. So if I could reach that level, I think anybody can do it. So yeah, it is pressure, but I feel like it's also an opportunity to motivate youngsters to do the same.
The 33-year old Christine Wolf (Austria) has been counting down the days to return to the scene of her maiden LET victory." It’s really nice to be back,"It's really nice to be back. I got to hold the title for the last three years, so I enjoyed that. It was very special for me to be back and walk past the 18 again. I'm just very excited to be back." she said adding " I played the back 9 yesterday and the front night today, I really liked it and enjoyed it out there. The course is looking really nice..I practised it and feel comfortable.
Local contender Tvesa Malik, who has 7 top 10 finishes in LET: recalled "I think the first year I came out on the tour, the Hero Women's Indian Open is probably the first experience that I had playing with players from the LET when I was playing full time on the WGAI and it was just interesting to see how many different ways there are to do it. "
Once you come out and you're playing here, there are so many good players on the Ladies European Tour and everyone has their own way of getting it done. At the LET, going there and playing, you know, I play 3 practice rounds and then four days and I'm playing seven days a week and then next week I'm trying to do it again,"
2017 winner Camille Chevalier (France) admitted that she went through a very interesting period of time after "my win here in 2017, through which I learned a lot. I'm actually happy I went through this tough time because I'm now a much wiser person, so it's good in a way.}
I worked a lot on my technique so that's why I went through ups and downs. but now I am really back to the game, playing with my strengths. I'm really enjoying the game. I'm really happy about this and really happy to be back because I really love this track. It really fits my game. Two, you have to play your shots, you have to be wise, which I think is very interesting. So I'm really happy to be back.,she added
2022 Australian Women's Classic winner Meghan MacLaren (England) said "This has been an event I've loved ever since I first came in 2017. And I don't know, just somewhere that has always fit my eye and just very different to anything else we played, the people are so welcoming.
I just think it's one of my favourite events of the year and whenever I decided to come back and play the LET this year, this was one of the events that I kind of had circled as somewhere I wanted to be. So, it's living up to expectations so far. This event has been one that I've enjoyed ever since I first came. I know a lot of people find this course very challenging and I do as well, " she said