New Delhi: Defending champion S.S.P. Chawrasia and Anirban Lahiri will return to the Hero Indian Open for this year's edition of the golf tournament which is expected to see the largest line-up of top Indian golfers at Gurugram's DLF Golf & Country Club from March 9 to 12, it was announced on Tuesday.
Apart from the two, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Jeev Milkha Singh, Jyoti Randhawa, Arjun Atwal, Rashid Khan, Shiv Kapur and Rahil Gangjee are also expected to participate.
While the final list of players will be confirmed closer to the tournament, some leading players from the European and Asian Tours are also set to play in the Hero Indian Open this year.
Fresh home-grown talent like S. Chikka, Shubhankar Sharma and Khalin Joshi, who have all come close to winning their maiden international pro title, will also make a strong bid for a breakthrough on home soil.
Hero MotoCorp Chairman, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer Pawan Munjal said, "Indian golf is at a very exciting phase, as it has begun making a mark on all the golf Tours across the world. The Hero Indian Open is on the European Tour platform for the third consecutive year and the field has also steadily become stronger.
"Being an integral part of this journey, Brand Hero is now a major supporter of golf on all the three Tours -- Asian Tour, European Tour and the US PGA. With the strongest-ever line up of Indian players, I am sure the fans have a lot to look forward to at the Hero Indian Open 2017."
The prize purse has been enhanced to $1.75 million, which is almost six times more than the $300,000, which it was when Hero took on the title sponsorship of the Indian Open in 2005.
The 2017 Hero Indian Open will become the first men's international event to be played at the Gary Player course at the DLF Golf & Country Club.
The tournament was played at the club only once before -- back in 2009, when C. Muniyappa won the title -- but at the Arnold Palmer course.
Aakash Ohri, Senior Executive Director, DLF Home Developers Ltd said "the course is gearing up to provide pristine conditions in the second week of March and we are sure that the players will enjoy the challenge on the course, and the new facilities that the club has to offer".
Indian Golf Union (IGU) President Satish Aparajit said: "The Hero Indian Open has been the pride of IGU for over half a century. Its rich history is virtually the history of Indian golf and we have had very quality champions in the past.
"For us, it gives us great pleasure to see Indians win the Indian Open, as it shows that Indian golf is progressing in the right direction."
Fellow Olympians Chawrasia and Lahiri have had a long-running battle at the Indian Open, where they have either won or finished second in each of the last three editions. The duo, which represented India at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro last year, has been at the forefront of Indian golf for the last two years.
In 2016, Chawrasia pipped Lahiri and Korean Wang Jeunghun to win the trophy, a year after Lahiri had edged Chawrasia out in the play-off in 2015.
Interestingly, at the 50th anniversary of the tournament in 2013, both Lahiri and Chawrasia were pushed to tied second spot by Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh.