The Hero Women’s Indian Open will see one of the strongest fields in recent years as 114 players from over 25 countries gather for the 11th edition of the event.
The Hero Women’s Indian Open, which took birth in 2007, now enters the second decade and for the eighth year in succession Hero MotoCorp will be the title sponsors.
Interestingly, DLF, who were the title sponsors for the first three years of the event, will host the event for the ninth time in 11 years.
The field is led by the defending champion Aditi Ashok, who is coming on the back of a brilliant win at the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi. It was Aditi’s third career win on the LET and the first one this year, following successes at the Hero Women’s Indian Open and the Qatar Ladies Open last year.
The strength of the field has been bolstered by the presence of four of the Top-5 from the LET’s 2016 Order of Merit. Beth Allen, who topped the Money List last year; Aditi, who was second overall and also the Rookie of the Year, and Florentyna Parker were the top-3 and No. 5 Isabelle Boineau has also made the trip to India.
Carlota Ciganda, who has been to India before, divides her time between the Ladies European Tour and the LPGA these days, and is back to India for this year’s HWIO. The highest world ranked player in this field at No. 20, Ciganda is a former Order of Merit winner in 2012, which was also her Rookie year on LET.
Aditi’s win last week in Abu Dhabi catapulted her from just around 100 to a 81st and that should be a big boost.
There are six players from the Top-20 of the latest Order of Merit, and that includes Ciganda (No. 6), Klara Spilkova (9th); Florentyna Parker (12th); Aditi (13th); Anne Van Dam (16th) and Ana Menedez (19th).
The 2016 edition was highlighted by a tight battle involving Aditi, Beth Allen and Belen Mozo in the closing stages and all three will be back to renew their rivalry at the Gary Player layout.
While Aditi will spearhead the Indian challenge as usual, there will be considerable focus on Sharmila Nicollet, who is back after spending three months in US. From the domestic pool, Gaurika Bishnoi, leader on Hero Order of Merit on domestic Tour, will hope to translate her success onto the HWIO.
Vani Kapoor, Amandeep Drall, Neha Tripathi and Smriti Mehra, who have been playing quite a few events on the Ladies European Tour, as also in Asia, will be watched closely. For Vani, this is her home course and armed with the confidence and experience of playing a lot outside India in the past 12 months, she will be hoping to do well this week.
As usual one of the biggest contingents from outside India is from Thailand, who love this event. They have won the HWIO four times, of which Phatlum Pornanong won three times. She is not here this time, but the 2013 Hero Women’s Indian Open, winner Thidapa Suwannapura, is here. She is also in fine form, having finished T-sixth in Abu Dhabi. Another player to watch out for will be Patcharajutar Kongkraphon, who would be looking to emulate Phatlum and Thidapa.
The magnificent world-class Gary Player layout will once again prove a big test for the players at the DLF Golf & Country Club, considered the best golf club in India and the entire region.