Delhi: Major champion Padraig Harrington of Ireland is hoping for a successful debut at the Hero Indian Open as he makes a welcome return to the country for the first time since 1992.
Harrington, who last played in India at the Amateur Golf Championship of India in Calcutta, will be among the elite field at the US$1.66 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour which starts on Thursday.
The three-time Major champion Harrington will headline the event staged at the Delhi Golf Club alongside title holder Anirban Lahiri of India, ranked 52nd in the world, Jeev Milkha Singh of India, a two-time Asian Tour number one, and an in-form Scott Hend of Australia, who won in Thailand last week.
After securing his first time top-10 result in three years in Thailand last week, Jeev Milkha Singh, a six-time Asian Tour winner, hopes to return to the winner’s circle for the first time since 2012.
“It’s been three years that I have won anything. But last week was a jumpstart and that has given me a lot of confidence. I have gone through long periods of title drought in the past but I’ve overcome that. I am hoping that the balls will start rolling in again,” Singh smiled.
Playing at the Hero Indian Open brings back some fond memories for the Singh, who was also Team Asia’s captain for the EurAsia Cup earlier this year.
“I have been playing at the DGC since I was nine years old. Though, I have not won here, I look forward to changing that. The key is to manage the course and you got to be positive over here. It’s very easy to get frustrated on this course, but it’s important to quickly put the bad shots behind and do the right things,” he explained.
With multiple victories worldwide including four wins in Asia, Harrington is excited to challenge for the prestigious Hero Indian Open trophy at the tree-lined Delhi course.
“It is difficult off the tees. You get the ball going the wrong way and it might end up into the trees. A lot of intimidating factor off the tees but the goal is conservative off the tees and aggressive attacking the greens.
Having played in Asia since the 1990s, Harrington will not take his chances lightly against the stellar field where six players ranked inside the world’s top-100 and more than 30 Asian Tour champions are contending this week.
“It is a strong field, probably stronger than I imagined. By choice, a lot of European players have come here. It is perfect scheduling time. I fully expected a strong Asian Tour presence and I see a lot of familiar faces from Europe,” he said.
“I’m looking to be in contention. Every week I go out there, I look to be in contention heading into the last nine holes. I know if I did that every week, then I know I will have enough wins by the end of the year that I’ll be happy with. The goal is to have a chance and feel the pressure on Sunday,” added Harrington.
Local favourite Rashid Khan will put his home course knowledge to good use as he aims for a third Asian Tour victory and a second title at the Delhi course. After making two cuts in four appearances early this year, Khan hopes to get off to a flying start at the Hero Indian Open.
“I’ve achieved a lot on this golf course and I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing. I won’t change the way I play on this course. Some players use driver and some don’t but I have a plan here and I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing.
“There are a lot of good player this week so it will be fun playing against them. Hopefully I can get into the mix on Sunday and have a chance to win,” said Khan, who won his first Asian Tour title in Delhi in 2014.