Sharmila, Vani hope to strike it rich at Indian Open

Women’s golf in India is still waking up to its potential. While it has thrown up a handful of stars in its nascent existence, they need to make a stronger impact on the international circuit. With Hero India Open taking place on their home turf, from October 23-25, there is no better opportunity for the home grown girls to turn the spotlight on them. 

The revamped state-of-art DLF Golf and Country Club, designed by Gary Player, is a visual delight but the 6282 yards par 72 course with deep bunkers and rocky backdrop is demanding and would exact the utmost from the golfers. A fit again Shamila Nicollet and confident Vani Kapoor, who leads Hero Order of Merit, would be carrying the Indian expectations in the strong field comprising 114 players from across 35 countries.

Eyes would also be on 17-year-old Bengaluru golfer Aditi Ashok whose recent achievements include winning the Singha Thailand Amateur Championship, the 2015 British Ladies Amateur Strokeplay Championship and the prestigious 2015 St Rule Trophy at St Andrews.

The increased prize purse of $400,000 would make it an enticing contest for the hosts of stars like defending champion Gwladys Nocera, British duo Trish Johnson and Melissa Reid, who is fourth on the Ladies European Tour order of merit, former champion Thidapa Suwannapura and the special attraction this year, Cheyenne Woods, the niece of great Tiger Woods.

The 25-year-old with the famous last name said she had heard good things about India from the uncle, who had visited the country last year.  “My uncle told me the how much love he got during his visit here. I think I have a great chance to win here.”

“The greens are very undulated, so you have to be in the right quadrant, or the right area. I’ll have holes where I want to play aggressive and holes where I’ll play smart and safe, like number 17.”

The par-4 17th hole has been the talking point of this tough course and the three finishing holes demands to be played with exceptional precision. The course has undergone a complete overhaul since 2012, the last time when the tournament was held here. The last two editions had taken place at Delhi Golf Club. 

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