In the absence of talented Aditi Ashok, Vani Kapoor will lead the home hopes in the 11th edition of the Hero Women’s Indian Open, beginning at the DLF Golf and Country Club on Thursday.
Aditi, who had won the tournament in 2016, pulled out this year to play at the Buick LPGA, which is being held on the same dates in Shanghai, China. The 20-year-old Bengaluru golfer had finished tied 13th last year.
Vani had recorded the best Indian finish (tied sixth) in the 2017 edition. The performance also secured her the LET Card. The fact that it happens to be her home course works to her advantage, but the 24-year-old was careful not to burden herself with pressure.
“I was hit by tendinitis few days back, but I am hoping to get over that. This is my home course and I know it well but I’m not thinking about winning. I just want to do my best,” said Vani who has won 28 titles on the domestic tour.
Another Indian who has had a good domestic season is 22-year-old Tvesa Malik, who currently leads the WGAI order of merit after three victories in 2018. She will be playing this tournament for the first time.
The challenge for Vani and her fellow mates, besides the tricky course, would be posed by the presence of five players who finished in the top 10 in the last edition. It includes defending champion Camille Chevalier who had dominated the Gary Player course to win her maiden title and went on to become the Rookie of the year, 2011 champion Caroline Hedwall, Beth Allen, the 2018 Australian Ladies Classic winner Celine Boutier, and Australian Sarah Kemp, who although still in search of her first LET title, finished third last year.
“It is a good course, the competition will be tough,” said Sarah.
Another golfer to take note of is 17-year-old Julia Engstrom, who created a piece of history when, at 15, she became the youngest player to win the British Open Amateur Championship at the Dundonald Links in Ayrshire. The teenaged Swede, however, is still waiting for her clubs to arrive.
“I have been playing with borrowed clubs,” she said. Interestingly in 2010, Laura Davies’ clubs came just the night before the tournament and she went on to win the title!
The tournament carries a record purse of US $500,000 with the winner pocketing US $75,000. The event will also be telecast live in over 100 countries for the first time.