Gurgaon: Caroline Hedwall, who made a successful return from injury last month to win on the Ladies European Tour will be back at the DLF Golf and Country club to defend the Hero Women’s Indian Open title. Hedwall, who won four titles in her Rookie year in 2011 and became the LET Player of the Year, leads a very strong line-up as the 2010 champion Laura Davies and the 2008-2009 champion Phatlum Pornanong have also confirmed their participation in the flagship event from November 30 to December 2.
Around 108 golfers from more than 25 countries will feature in the $ 300,000 (Euros 225,000) event tri-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour (LET), the Ladies Asian Golf Tour (LAGT) and Women's Golf Association of India (WGAI). The event will be played over three days and 54 holes.
Though the final list of golfers will become known as the tournament dates come closer, confirmations have already been received from Hedwall, Laura Davies, Phatlum Pornanong, Trish Johnson and two-time winner this season, Stacy Keating among others. More confirmations will be received in the next few days and they are expected to include all top names on the ISPS Handa Order of Merit.
The Indian challenge will include Sharmila Nicollet, who qualified for the LET last year through the Qualifying School and Smriti Mehra, a former LPGA player, who last week finished in top-10 at Ladies Indonesia Open. Young stars like Vani Kapoor, Nalini Singh Siwach and Neha Tripathi will also be challengers at the event.
Alexandra Armas, Executive Director of the Ladies European Tour, said the tournament indicated how the LET was growing in various part of the world and is a sign of the growing strength of golf in India. She said, “The Ladies European Tour (LET) is delighted to be back at DLF Golf and Country Club for the third successive year to contest the highly sought after Hero Women’s Indian Open title.
Our members will once again enjoy playing on this magnificent golf course as they compete alongside fellow professional golfers from the Ladies Asian Golf Tour and Women’s Golf Association of India.”
The Hero Womens Indian Open is part of the final stretch of events on the LET calendar. There is only one more event, the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters scheduled after the Hero Indian Open 2012.
Mr. Pawan Munjal, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Hero MotoCorp Ltd, said, “It gives me immense pleasure to know that so many top women stars will be participating in this year’s Hero Women’s Indian Open. In such a short time, this event has grown in stature on the Ladies Asian Golf Tour and the Ladies European Tour. I am sure the Hero Women’s Indian Open is going to present a perfect platform for the emerging Indian players to test their skills against some of the best players from around the world. For the game to sustain its rising popularity in the country, more women players have to do well in big-ticket golfing events such as the Hero Indian Open.
“Having been associated with the evolution and growth of the game of golf in India since its early days, I am personally delighted to see so many Indian women players doing well in the international circuit. With golf being one of the fastest-growing sports in the country, we are proud to have played our small role in the evolution of the game in India.”
Kavita Singh, President of the WGAI, said, “With Hero MotoCorp as the sponsor and the support of Ladies European Tour (LET) and Ladies Asian Golf Tour (LAGT), the WGAI has seen the Women’s Indian Open grow into one of the biggest events in the region. Now in its sixth year, the Hero Women’s Indian Open has a purse of US $ 300,000. I am also thankful to the sponsors for supporting the fledgling Women’s Professional Golf Tour. I am sure as years roll by women’s golf take its due place as one of the avenues for a viable career for Indian sportswomen.”
The stellar field is led Caroline Hedwall, who won four titles in 2011 and became the Rookie of the Year and also the LET Player of the Year. In 2012, she had sit out because of injury, but when she returned to action in September she won the UNIQA Ladies Golf Open in Austria for fifth LET title. She was also the Captain’s pick for the 2011 Solheim Cup.
Davies, winner in 2010, has won close to 85 international titles including four Majors and 20 titles on LPGA. She has also won the LET Money List title seven times.
Stacey Keating has won two titles this year and the wins came in successive weeks at the Tenerife Open de Espana Femenino and Lacoste Ladies Open de France.
Pornanong Phatlum, winner of the Women’s Indian Open in 2008 and 2009, is now a regular on the LPGA and she admits that she loves to come back to India and play the Indian Open.
Other prominent players are likely to include the 2008 Indian Masters winner, Gwladys Nocera (Swe), former LPGA player, Jennifer Rosales (Phi), LET’s veretan stars Trish Johnson and Sophie Gustafson.
The Women’s Indian Open has proved to be a stepping stone for many golfers in the region. The inaugural winner of Indian Open in 2007, Yani Tseng of Chinese Taipei, is now World No. 1 and already at 23 has won five Majors. Also playing on LPA after winning on Indian Open is the 22-yar-old Thai Phatlum Pornanong.
Koichi Kato, President of LAGT, said “I would like to thank the Women's Golf Association of India, (WGAI) and its sponsors for their commitment in keeping the Hero Women's Indian Open alive and at the same time raising the tournament's profile. In just its 6th edition, the Hero Women’s Indian Open has established itself as a premier golfing event for women in the Asian region.”
By Indian Sports News Network