Indians face tough test from a strong field

Indians face tough test from a strong field

Fresh Kapur leads home challenge as Indian Open tees off today

Indians face tough test from a strong field

Shiv Kapur, like many of his compatriots, is desperate to add Hero Indian Open in his kitty of silverwares. The 36-year-old, however, cautioned Indians would find it tough to keep the title at home against a quality field this season.

The last three editions of the tournament have been dominated by Indians with Anirban Lahiri winning the trophy in 2015 (Delhi Golf Course) and SSP Chawrasia winning it twice in row in 2016 (Delhi Golf Course) and 2017 (DLF Golf & Country Club). The DLF Golf & Country Club, designed by Gary Player, will be hosting the event this year too, and once again the focus will be on accuracy. Only seven players finished the tournament under par last year.

Kapur, who himself is on a roll, winning three Asian Tour titles last year, including Panasonic Open here, said while the course is tough, "it is not unfair."

"Some of the changes here (compared to last year) have actually made it easier when it comes to decision making. For instance, at the 15th, this year, we won't be able to aim for the green. We will all be laying up at the same spot. Similarly, at the 17th, lengthening a golf course doesn't always make it harder," he said.

"The field is fantastic. It's good to see Indians being mentioned as contenders. The international field is very strong as well, so the Indians will find it difficult to retain the title."

Kapur, who chose to skip Qatar Masters due to back niggle, was glad with his decision which allowed him to recover and prepare for the Indian Open. "My form is pretty good. I'm glad to be able to ride on the momentum of winning three times."

Meanwhile, England's Andrew "Beef" Johnston, a popular and likeable figure on golf circuit, is hoping to return to winning ways with the tournament. The 29-year-old who has got experience of playing on European and PGA Tour is targeting to be in top 60.

"I want to try to win again. I want to be in the top 60 to play in the final Race to Dubai tournaments. I played well at the start of the year so I've just got to keep that going," said Johnston who is on his maiden visit to India.

However, heavy snow back home hampered his preparations. "It's been a bit of a frustrating couple of weeks," admitted Johnston.

His compatriot Chris Wood, the 2016 Ryder Cup star, echoed the sentiment. "We had six or eight inches of snow last week. Preparation wasn't great, but I managed to hit six or seven hundred balls over a few days," said Wood is coming on the back encouraging weeks in Oman and Qatar.

Wood felt Chawrasia would be the man to beat here. "He wins everywhere in India. I've just been told that the cut last year was seven over par, so I sort of thought that if you were around level par you're probably not going to be too far off, but he ran away with it last year. He's certainly somebody that you want to beat," he said.

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