*L to R-Robert MacIntyre, SSP Chawrasia, Nicolai Hojgaard, Thorbjorn Olesen
Gurugram, 23 February:Two -time winner, SSP Chawrasia has promised a better showing by home golfers in the US$ 2 million Hero Indian Open to be played at the the DLF Golf and Country Club here from 23 February.
The veteran Kolkata based golfer will lead the very big and strong contingent in a very tough field. Chawrasia, who won the 2017 Hero Indian Open at this very layout and had also won another European Tour event back in 2011 at the older course.
Now back for another shot at the title, the four-time European Tour winner said the event means a lot. “To be honest it’s a very important tournament for us Indians golfers. You get a good opportunity to play on the European (DP World) Tour so our guys can get more chances if they do well here.”
Adding his weight to the DP World tied up with PGTI, he said, “I think it’s a good thing as more Indians can graduate from the Indian tour to a much higher level. Already the winner of last year’s Order of Merit, Manu Gandas has a full card for this year for Europe.”
Speaking about his mantra for the course, he said, “I like to hit it straight and if I can get on the green with 10 feet or less to putt, I always back myself. Shoot straight and keep the putt numbers low was the way for me in the past and it worked pretty well.”
On the other hand, Scotland's Robert MacIntyre was of the view that the DLF Golf and Country Club is going pose a stiff challenge as he sets out to win the HIO trophy that his countryman Stephen Gallacher won at the last staging in 2019.
Saying the course would be a mental test, he added, “I would be amazed if you see double digits this week. It’s a mental test more than anything.” Yet, MacIntyre had a hole-in-one on the 16th, which every player admits is the start of the three toughest finishing holes on any course on the DP World Tour.
Thorbjørn Olesen and Nicolai Højgaard, who lead a strong contingent of Danes at the Hero Indian Open, said they were looking forward to the event. Olesen has played the Hero Indian Open previously at this venue, but it was before it was re-designed by Gary Player.
Olesen said, “I haven’t played this course before. Well, when I played here it was a very different course. It was the old course which was a short but tricky golf course. (This time) I have only managed to play 5 or 6 holes here and it looks very different from what I remember from the old course. But I think all the guys have said a lot about the golf course and what you need to do and it’s going to be a different week.”
Meanwhile, the 21-year-old Højgaard, set the ball rolling as he won the Hero Shootout and earned a cheque of US$ 4,000 as the winner, while Guido Migliozzi who lost in the final, received US$ 2,000.
The prizes were given away by the Chairman and CEO of Hero MotoCorp Pawan Munjal.
Two days ahead of the main event, the US$ 2 million Hero Indian Open, the Hero Shootout saw eight players, seven of them pros who will be teeing up at the main event along with Pawan Munjal,
The players were shooting from a hundred yards in the first round. Each of the eight participants were given 60 seconds to fire a maximum of nine shots at the ninth green pin with circles marking at 4, 8 and 12 feet that offered 10, 25 and 50 points and a hundred for a slam-dunk.
Højgaard, Guido Migliozzi of Italy, Stephen Gallacher and MacIntyre progressed to the second round. Migliozzi aggregated the best score of 270 points in the first round, followed by MacIntyre (170) while Højgaard and Gallacher were tied on 120 points.
In the first round, crowd favourite Shiv Kapur, former Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjørn of Denmark and local boy Manu Gandas were eliminated with Dr Munjal being handed a bye into the second round.
The second round was shot from 115 yards out and no time limit on the six shots was applicable. Højgaard tallied 145 points, while Migliozzi had 125 and moved into the final, where the young Dane nailed the title with a total of 70 points from 120 yards again. This time too they had six tries and no clock running. Migliozzi failed to score.
A total of US$10,000 was on offer and it included US$ 4,000 for the winner and US$ 2,000 for the runner-up. The two losing semi-finalists received US$ 1,000 each and the first-round losers got US$ 500.