Defending champion Chiragh Kumar, Chikkarangappa among other Asian Tour stars ready to thrill at Panasonic Open India

Liang Wen chong ChiraghKumara ChikkarangappaNew Delhi: An international cast of players from over 20 countries will feature in the US$400,000 Panasonic Open India which gets underway at the venerable Delhi Golf Club on Thursday.

The elite 120-man field, made up of players from the Asian Tour and the Professional Golf Tour of India, will be ready to thrill the local galleries when the Asian Tour event returns for its sixth edition from December 1 to 4.

Defending champion Chiragh Kumar of India will headline the event alongside homegrown rising star Chikkarangappa S. and China’s Liang Wen-chong, who is making a welcome return to India since his memorable victory at the historic venue in 2008.

Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond, Mithun Perera of Sri Lanka and local prospect Shubhankar Sharma will be amongst the promising stars in the field hunting for a breakthrough Asian Tour victory at the Panasonic Open India.

Manish Sharma – President & CEO, Panasonic India & South Asia said: “We are immensely proud to be supporting the Panasonic Open India, which has been a great platform for propelling the region’s top stars onto the world stage since it was launched in 2011.

“Indian stars Anirban Lahiri and S.S.P. Chawrasia are good examples of players who have advanced their careers onto the international level after winning the Panasonic Open India. It is our goal and mission to grow the game of golf in India as well as across the region. We hope to see the emergence of another worthy champion at the Panasonic Open India this week.”

Chikkarangappa, one of the pair who represented India in the prestigious World Cup of Golf last week, will take advantage of his recent run of good form to mount another title challenge for his breakthrough on the region’s premier Tour.

“I think a win is around the corner for me. I just have to stay patient. I think my game has gotten better over the last few events so I just need to focus on what I need to do and things should fall in place,” said the 23-year-old Indian, who has notched four top-10s to sit in 27th place on the current money list.

Kumar, who is relishing the chance to defend his title for the first time in his career, said: “I have been looking forward to this week. The game is feeling good right now and I am feeling confident coming back here. Hopefully I will be spurred on by the happy memories last year for a successful title defence this week.”

The father of one had earlier eased the pressure of retaining his Tour card for 2017 following a tied-fourth result in Manila, which propelled him to 40th place on the current Order of Merit.

Liang, a three-time Asian Tour winner, is feeling upbeat ahead of his Panasonic Open India debut. “It has been a long while. India is a country with rich history and culture. I have had a great experience the last time I was here. I am just going to enjoy my game this week.”

Liang, who became the first Chinese to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2007, also holds the course record at the tree-lined Delhi Golf Club where he shot a 12-under-par 60 some eight years ago. It remains his personal best 18-hole till date.

With the Panasonic Open India being the penultimate event of the 2016 season, players will have everything to play for as they vie to break into top-60 on the final Order of Merit, which is the cut-off mark for players to retain their Tour cards for the 2017 season.