New Delhi: India’s Digvijay Singh will rely on home comfort at the Hero Indian Open starting Thursday as he battles to save his Asian Tour card for next season.
Digvijay is currently in 76th position on the Asian Tour Order of Merit and knows the US$1.25 million event staged at the Delhi Golf Club is his best opportunity to secure a good result or even a victory.
“It is absolutely an important week for me like it was last year because I was in a similar position but secured my card in this very tournament,” said Digvijay, who needs to break and remain in the top-60 at the end of the season to retain his Tour card for next year.
Digvijay, who has only two top-10 finishes on the Asian Tour in three years, will be determined to produce his best form when he tees off in his National Open where he finished in tied sixth in 2009.
“I didn’t lose interest in playing golf but the steam was running out a bit. The course is set up well for the Indians and we always enjoy playing at the Delhi Golf Club,” said Digvijay, the brother-in-law to former Asian Tour number one Jyoti Randhawa.
He predicts a bright future for the sport in India as the Hero Indian Open will be the fourth Asian Tour event to be staged in the country.
“Golf in India is booming. We are only going upwards as far as money and exposure in the sport is concern. With so many courses springing up in the country, I think we will be having more tournaments in the future,” said the 39-year-old.
Malaysia’s Iain Steel, who has successfully secured his Asian Tour card since 2006, has endured an uncharacteristic run of poor form which has left him in 111th place on the Order of Merit.
“This is not a position I want to be in. Every week is a good week to save your card with a good result. I’m just trying to search for my A game at the moment,” said Steel, whose best finish in the Indian Open was in tied 21st place in 2009.
“I haven’t done anything drastic to my game yet. I think it is just a cycle I’m going through and hopefully it ends soon!” said Steel, who was born in Sabah and currently resides in the United States.
Highly rated Namchok Tantipokhakul of Thailand enjoyed a solid season last year where he missed out a dream victory after losing in a play-off to Tetsuji Hiratsuka of Japan at the Black Mountain Masters on home soil.
He admits he has been struggling to rediscover his impressive form but is eyeing to turn the corner at the venerable Delhi Golf Club after receiving words of encouragement from Thai veteran Thaworn Wiratchant, a 12-time Asian Tour winner, who will also be in the field this week.
“Many of the Thai veterans like Prom and Thaworn have been telling me to improve on my course management and it will be very important for this week. On this course, you need to keep a cool head and remain composed to get a good score,” said the 24-year-old, who is in 65th place on this year’s money list.
Edoardo Molinari of Italy, ranked 55th in the world, will headline the Hero Indian Open alongside title holder Rikard Karlberg of Sweden and S.S.P. Chowrasia of India, currently second on the Asian Tour Order of Merit.