Anirban Lahiri – Hero Indian Open
The much travelled European Tour moves on to India this week, for the co-sanctioned Hero Indian Open. Although this event has been played since 1964, this years renewal is the first time the tournament has been included in the European Tour schedule. The venue is the prestigious Delhi Golf Club, which hosted the inaugural Indian Open in 1964, when Peter Thomson won the first of his three titles. This Par 72 7,014yd track, is a distinctly old fashioned type of track, and certainly not long by modern standards.
The tree lined course features very narrow fairways, which will put a real premium on accuracy from the tee, so this is definitely a week for the accurate tee to green merchants, rather than the bombers from the tee.The Asian Tour contingent have played here on numerous occasions, so they will have a huge advantage this week. It should also be noted that the course characteristics are quite similar to those of the Hong Kong Golf Club, which hosts the Hong Kong Open, so form from that event could well be a useful guide this week. Perfect weather conditions are forecast, with hot sunshine, and light breezes forecast for the tournament.
The field is very weak, basically an Asian Tour event, with the charismatic Miguel Angel Jiminez adding a little extra spice to the proceedings (sorry about the pun!). Despite the Spaniard making his course debut, he must still have every chance in such a weak field, especially with his stellar form at the Hong Kong Golf Club (4 time previous winner). However he looked a bit jaded in the final round in Thailand last week, where he struggled with a heavy cold, so just enough negatives to put me off this week.
We hit the crossbar again last week, with our 28-1 fancy Scott Hend just missing out, after leading for most of the final round. At least another healthy each way return was pocketed by the column.
My main fancy this week is the rapidly improving Anirban Lahiri, who attempts to win his national Open for the first time. The 27 year old Indian golfer who is a multiple winner on the Asian Tour, broke his maiden tag at the recent Maybank Malaysian Open, and now stands 39th in the current World Rankings. He finished Tied 2nd here in the 2013 renewal of the event, but has previously won 3 times at this venue, the 2012 and 2013 Sail SBI Open, and the 2011 Panasonic Open. This emerging talent seems to have the knack to close out events, so with the added motivation of winning his home title, he looks the most likely winner this week.
Another home contingent player I expect to go well this week is Shiv Kapur, who was brought up playing this layout. He also boasts plenty of course form, having posted three top 4 finishes, at various Asian Tour events. and arrives here in decent form, having finished Tied 11th in Thailand last week. The course is tailor made for his accurate ball striking, so with plenty of local support, he must every chance of contending this week.
On course form alone, I have to include SSP Chawrasia in my staking plan this week. The two time Tour winner (both in India), who lost his Tour card last year, excels at this venue, having won the MGF Indian Masters here in 2008, the 2014 Panasonic Open, and also finishing Tied 2nd in the 2013 Hero Indian Open. The demands of this course, are tailor made for this very short, but ultra straight hitter, who posted a recent 10th place finish in Malaysia, and interestingly finished tied 5th in the 2014 Hong Kong Open. On a course where he has such good vibes, he represents solid each way value.