GURUGRAM — India's new golfing star Shubhankar Sharma, S.S.P. Chawrasia and Anirban Lahiri will be among the favorites when the $1.75 million Hero Indian Open begins at the DLF Golf and Country Club here March 7.
The 21-year-old Shubhankar came off a top-10 finish at the WGC-Mexico Championship and flew halfway across the world to compete in his National Open.
Shubhankar is currently on top of the Asian and European Tours, having won twice in Joburg Open and Maybank Championship and his eyes are fixed on the Indian Open.
"The Indian Open is very close to my heart and I have grown up watching it on TV and I have also been coming to the tournament almost every year," said Shubhankar, who has been paired for the first two rounds with Andrew Johnston and Julian Suri.
"Playing in front of your home crowd is the best thing in any sport. I am glad that I am back and I will try to win this tournament against such a great field."
Chawrasia will be adopting the same strategy that led to him winning last year's tournament by seven shots. The affable 39-year-old did not give anything away, and simply credited his win in 2017 to playing good golf.
Chawrasia has a brilliant record at his National Open, having won in 2015 and 2016 and finishing in second place in 2013 and 2014.
Compatriot Lahiri looks forward to competing in Asia and playing in front of his home fans. The 2015 Hero Indian Open champion and Asian Tour Order of Merit winner will be adopting a calm and patient approach to the tournament, given the challenging conditions and set up of the golf course.
"We've done well here. (But) I think all eyes are going to be on SSP as well as he's played the last couple of years. Having said that, I must also add, that this is the best Indian field we've ever had. Most in-form Indian players are here," said Lahiri.
"And with Shubhankar playing the way he is and Khalin (Joshi) recently having a top 10 in Malaysia, plus Shiv Kapur with three wins in 2017, it is going to be a great week."
Among other Indians, Shiv Kapur, S. Chikka, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Ajeetesh Sandhu and Rashid Khan are also expected to be in contention.
Among the foreign players, focus will be on Emiliano Grillo, Thongchai Jaidee, Scott Hend, Joost Luiten, Andrew Johnston and Europe's Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn.
The Hero Indian Open 2018 will have an elite field that comprises of five Asian Tour Order of Merit winners and more than 40 Asian Tour champions.