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New Delhi, February 21, 2020
In-form Udayan Mane, former champions Anirban Lahiri, Shubhankar Sharma and local favourite Rashid Khan will spearhead a strong Indian challenge against an equally powerful international star cast in the $ 1.75 million Hero Indian Open to be played at DLF Golf and Country Club at Gurugram near here from March 19 to 22.
With this being the Olympic year, it is expected two Indians will make the grade. The tussle for those two spots is intense and there is a long list of players who can grab those spots, even though Rashid Khan, Udayan Mane and Shubhankar Sharma are the current top three.
Apart from the above quartet, almost all top Indian golfers - including past champions SSP Chawrasia (2016,2017)three-time winner Jyoti Randhawa (2000, 2006 and 2007) Shiv Kapur, Rahil Gangjee, Viraj Madappa, Khalin Joshi, S Chikkarangappa, Ajeetesh Sandhu, and many others will also be in the fray in this 56th edition of the Hero Indian Open the longest-running international event in the country
Giving the established players a run for their money will be the likes of Aman Raj, Kshitij Naveed Kaul, Karandeep Kochhar, Veer Ahlawat, Yuvraj Sandhu and others will all be hoping to strike it big at this biggest golfing event of the country which will be the 15th successive edition to be sponsored by motorcycle market leader Hero MotoCorp, who took over the title sponsorship in 2005.
Leading the European challenge will be the defending champion, Stephen Gallacher, who won his first professional title in Asia and his third on the European Tour. The former Ryder Cup player staged a remarkable comeback by firing three birdies in his closing four holes to win the Hero Indian Open by one shot over Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura.
This edition will see the ace Dane Thomas Bjorn, the winning captain of 2018 European Ryder Cup team in Gurgaon, along with Dutch golfer Joost Luiten, a six-time European Tour winner and Andy Sullivan, a three-time European Tour winner.
The field for HIO 2020 will feature a quartet of fresh, young talent with Justin Suh of the United States, a former world number 1 amateur; Akshay Bhatia, a golfer of Indian origin who represents the US and is a much-decorated amateur; Denmark’s Nicolai Hojgaard and Matthew Jordan of England.
The challenging Gary Player Course at DLF Golf and Country Club, which has been the host venue of the Hero Indian Open since 2017, will provide a stern test for the 144 players vying for top honours.
Indian golfers have established themselves as strong challengers on the Asian Tour and have been regular winners. Despite not adding any silverware in 2019, the Indian golfers finished runner-up and in Top-3 numerous times.
Thailand, as usual, will be sending a strong and young contingent with many Asian Tour winners. With entries still coming in, other names will soon be confirmed.
After three Indian winners from 2015 to 2017 – two of them won by Chawrasia, who also has four other runner-up finishes at the event – the past two editions have seen winners from the United Kingdom.
Matt Wallace became the first Englishman to win in 2018 and Gallacher became the first Scotsman to put his name on the historic Trophy. Other past Indian Open champions include Siddikur Rahman (2013), David Gleeson (2011), Liang Wen-chong (2008) and Mardan Mamat (2004).
Talking to media persons here on Thursday, J. Narai , Adviser, Sports, Hero MotoCorp Ltd, assured his company's continue support for the promotion of golf in the country. "Hero MotoCorp remains committed to the long-term promotion of golf in the country and around the world. We have been the Title Sponsor of the Hero Indian Open for 15 consecutive years now.
"With the presence of a strong Indian contingent, and participation of talented international players, we are sure the Hero Indian Open 2020 will see top-class competitive golf," he added.
Commissioner and CEO, Asian Tour Cho Minn Thant who was present on the occasion, said, “The Hero Indian Open has always been regarded as one of the Asian Tour’s Majors. It is also therefore befitting for the Hero Indian Open to be staged at the very challenging DLF Golf and Country Club. It is a course which demands immense mental strength as anything can happen at any time and no lead is too big."
Deputy Chief Operating Officer - International, European Tour Ben Cowen said, “We look forward to returning to the striking surroundings of DLF Golf and Country Club in March as the Hero Indian Open takes its place on the Race to Dubai for the sixth year."
Indian Golf Union President Lt.Gen D.Anbu (Retd) added, “I am very pleased to be attending my 2nd Hero Indian Open in the capacity of President of the IGU, the promoter of the event. That we have come through trying times to host this, the most spectacular golf tournament in all of India, is a matter of immense pride.”