Gurgaon: India's Smriti Mehra and US professional Christina Kim, two of the most flamboyant players, got along very well during the Hero Skills Challenge and they are now all geared up for the main event, the Hero Women’s Indian Open Golf at the DLF Golf and Country Club.
The two are best known for their cheery demeanour and jokes, but certainly they will be more than jokers in the pack when the event opens on Friday. They are just two in the star-studded field that includes defending champion Laura Davies, the 2010 Henderson Money List winner, Lee Ann Pace of South Africa, Rookie star Caroline Hedwall, former Money List winner Sophie Gustafson, and two-time champion Phatlum Pornanong of Thailand.
The Hero Women’s Indian Open 2011, a tri-sanctioned event between the Ladies European Tour, the Ladies Asian Golf Tour and the Women’s Golf Association to India, carries a prize purse of US300,000 is the final event on the Ladies Asian Golf Tour calendar for 2011. On the Ladies European Tour it is the penultimate event with the season ending the following week in Dubai.
"With all the stars assembled here, I want to go on joking and merry-making as I want to take the pressure off me. Joking is good. It's a relief-therapy. This tournament is important for me. I need to be more focussed in wanting to attain some good results to celebrate the end of 2011. Laura (Davies) is also here to defend her title and Christina (Kim) – the "Spice Girl"on the US LPGA is no pushover. We have a lot of impressive and attractive players in this tournament and it's a beautiful mix of the young and seasoned players," said Mehra.
She also commented: "This tournament is a great exposure for Indian women's professional golfers and we are hopeful for a good result from the Indians this year."
For Kim, 27, her favourite quote is "Enjoy the Ride", and she hopes to enjoy her ride in Gurgaon. It hasn't been a stellar year for Kim but she believes she has the talent to go for a win though she claimed that there's still a lot to do with her game.
"I keep myself happy by joking and laughing all the time. That's me. It’s a great feeling to be in India for the first time, and I am expecting a good finish thanks to my current form," said the professional from Orlando, Florida.
Leaving the jokers aside, the beauties - Sharmila Nicollet of India and Thailand's Pornanong Pathlum, who is a two-time winner of the Women's India Open, are ready to steal the highlight from Mehra and Kim.
Nicollet, the current leader on the domestic Hero Women’s Professional Golf Tour, said, “There has been a big improvement in my swing and accuracy. It has helped me enjoy playing the game. I have been able to cut loss of strokes with accuracy and good judgments. Thus I have been hitting good scores during practice games," she said.
Phatlum, won here in 2008 and 2009 but failed in her bid for a hat-trick when she did not finish well last year. "Still I can go on the record book by winning it this year to make it three. Nobody has won this event three times," said the Thai golfer who is enjoying a fine form.
England’s Laura Davies will defend the title and the 79-time tournament winner was relishing the opportunity. She said; "I don’t think that the course necessarily suits me but on the other hand I’m playing so well, if I can hole some putts, which has been the problem all year, then I believe I’ll have a chance," she said.
Davies, a seven-time European Order of Merit winner, will be joined by fellow European Solheim Cup team members Sophie Gustafson, a four-time winner of the Henderson Money List and the hugely talented rookie Caroline Hedwall, who has already won three times this season.
Sweden’s Hedwall is also making her tournament debut, commented: "It has been a wonderful year and I was not expecting it to be this good. I am hoping for a good finish at the Indian Open. It has great experience in India so far."
The Indian challenge will also include the likes of Nalini Singh (Siwach), who learned her game at the host venue, Neha Tripathi, Saaniya Sharma and Meghna Bal among the 108 players in the tournament field.