Dave Tindall

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Hero Indian Open Preview

Monday, March 5, 2018


Gamers were thrown a curveball at last year’s Hero Indian Open when the tournament moved to the DLF Golf and Country Club.

 

Billed as being 7,657 yards on the official European Tour website, local man Anirban Lahiri described it as more European than a typical Indian course and he expected less home players to feature on the leaderboard.

 

It seemed vastly different to previous venue Delhi GC and the style and length suggested it wouldn’t suit defending champion, the short-hitting S.S.P Chawrasia one little bit. Some bookies had him at 100/1.

 

And yet on Sunday afternoon Chawrasia was holding up the trophy again having won by seven shots! To add to the feeling of being duped, sources at the course said the actual yardage for the final round was just over 7,000 yards – about 650 less than was advertised!

 

This year, pre-tournament features are listing it as 7,412 yards while the official European Tour site has it just five yards longer.

 

What we do know from last year is that the holes can be shortened/lengthened by vast distances due to the multiple teeing areas.

 

From the tips it’s a 7,657 yard beast but don’t rule out short hitters because the total yardage will vary and last year proved there was more than one way to skin a cat on the controversial layout.

 

 

Last year’s top five

 

-10 S.S.P. Chawrasia (DD: 67, DA: 12, GIR: 31, Scr: 1, PA: 7, AA: 8)

-3 Gavin Green (DD: 60, DA: 28, GIR: 31, Scr: 45, PA: 1, AA: 34)

-2 Scott Jamieson (DD: 16, DA: 7, GIR: 3, Scr: 55, PA: 5, AA: 1)

-2 Matteo Manassero (DD: 58, DA: 12, GIR: 10, Scr: 7, PA: 43, AA: 15)

-1 Rafa Cabrera Bello (DD: 21, DA: 41, GIR: 4, Scr: 57, PA: 23, AA: 23)

-1 Anirban Lahiri (DD: 11, DA: 49, GIR: 20, Scr: 54, PA: 8, AA: 19)

-1 Carlos Pigem (DD: 26, DA: 35, GIR: 1, Scr: 44, PA: 13, AA: 9)

 

Notes: The top two were two of the shorter hitters that week while a range of pathways produced success. Chawrasia scrambled and putted superbly while others hit lots of greens.

 

One other angle to look at is how well this top seven had performed in India previously, even if this course was a different test.

 

Chawrasia and Lahiri - Indian locals with numerous home wins.

Green and Manassero - making their debuts in the country although the former was an Asian Tour regular.

Cabrera Bello - had finished T16 in the Avantha Masters on previous start in India way back in 2011.

Jamieson - 3-for-3 in Indian events but never better than T43.

Pigem - another Asian Tour player. Had made top 25 in three of last four starts in India, including a top four.

 

 

The Course – DLF G&CC

 

Described as a monster beforehand, it played like it on several levels. Some hated it and said they wouldn’t go back. A 273-yard par 3 (16th) didn’t help, while the 14th was a 550-yard par 4 averaging nearly a shot over par on day one (yardages reduced on those holes this year to 256 and 461 yards – apparently). There were just two rounds in the 60s in round two and the field averaged 4.3 bogeys in round three. Chawrasia’s 5-under-par second round was 10 better than the average score that day when he entered the scorer’s hut. It was a week for quirky numbers. Eddie Pepperell, who likes a quote, made a fine start but said, “That's the most stressful three-under-par I think I've ever shot. Not because I played badly. I played really, really well. I hadn't seen the golf course before today and literally every shot, something can go wrong. It's quite a walk and mentally it will be very draining to stay up there.” Asked on Twitter if he was returning this year, Pepperell answered in the negative, saying, “That course was designed by Satan.” Well, Gary Player to be technically correct. Opened in 2015 it has a man-made quarry on holes 16 and 18, two big water hazards covering holes 5, 6, 8, 9, 16, 1 and 18 and undulating fairways with large rolling greens.

 

 

The Weather

 

The mercury rises throughout tournament week and is forecast to hit the mid-90s on the weekend. Expect hazy sunshine the first couple of days before clearer rays for the final two rounds. It could get quite windy for Sunday’s closer.

 

 

The Leading Contenders

 

Chris Wood

After three missed cuts to open 2018, Wood gave himself a much-needed jolt of confidence by finishing runner-up at the Oman Open. He backed it up with T13 in the Qatar Masters, again recording good putting numbers, so is in good spirits for his first start on Indian soil. As with anyone who hasn’t seen this course before, it remains to be seen what he makes of it!

 

Joost Luiten

Luiten claimed the sixth European Tour win of his career by winning a final-day duel with Wood at the Oman Open and then headed to Mexico for the WGC. He finished T37, tweeting later: “I didn't play badly in Mexico but didn't score. Hopefully this week will be successful in India.” He’s another first-timer at DLF G&CC although he has pegged it up plenty of times in India. Seven previous trips show top 20s in the 2011 and 2012 Avantha Masters although he missed the cut in this event at Delhi two years ago.

 

Emiliano Grillo

Adding to the international field is Argentina’s Grillo and he’s one to watch after finishing T8 at the Honda Classic last time (69-66 on the weekend) and T12 at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines two starts earlier. He’s been piping plenty of fairways and back in his European Tour days he played the 2013 Avantha Masters and finished T13 after a closing 65. It all looks good but, as with other debutants, he could easily be pulling his hair out when trying his luck for the first time here.

 

Anirban Lahiri

At least we know local star Lahiri can function at DLF G&CC after last year’s T5 and gamers should be craving any reliability on offer this week. He started slowly last year with an opening 76 but made his move with a Saturday 67 and ended as one of just seven players to break par. With a win and a second place in the previous two editions of the Indian Open in Delhi, Lahiri is a stud on home soil and T26 at Riviera two starts ago suggests all is well for another big challenge.

 

Shubhankar Sharma

The new golden boy of Indian golf, Sharma raised his profile dramatically to a worldwide audience by holding the 36 and 54-hole leads at the WGC-Mexico Championship before ending T9 after a tough final day. With two European Tour wins in the previous three months he’s on a real roll although a graphic on Sunday’s coverage showed that he will have clocked up over 9,000 air miles over the last six weeks. He also plans to stop off in New York after Mexico so won’t be arriving home in India until Tuesday afternoon. The rigours of last week and all that travelling could take a toll but at least he knows the venue (T40 last year). Form in India? 18-26-40-15-37-4-2-17-4 going back to 2014.

 

Jeunghun Wang

Another young Asian talent with multiple wins (three in fact) already on the European Tour. The 22-year-old Korean, who has victories in Morocco, Mauritius and Qatar, didn’t play this course last year which isn’t ideal but the previous year at Delhi he was runner-up. On that course, it made sense that he would do well but it’s hard to fathom what he might do at DLF G&CC. He missed the cut when defending in Qatar but was T26 in Oman and T6 in Dubai so has some nice form in 2018.

 

S.S.P. Chawrasia

Victory here last year made Chawrasia the first golfer in European Tour history to win their first four ET titles on home soil. It added to victories at the 2008 Indian Masters, 2011 Avantha Masters and this event in 2016. Amazingly, despite the tournament moving around, he has two wins and four second places in the Indian Open and he’s been the 54-hole leader in the event for the last three years. His 2018 form of MC-53-55-MC-MC is poor but we’ve been here before. Never ever ever (yes, that’s two evers) rule him out on home soil!

 

Paul Peterson

Last year, the scary but misleading pre-tournament yardage figures would probably have ruled Peterson out. However, he opened 70-72 to sit sixth at halfway. Then when the yardage was just over 7,000 on Sunday and seemingly ideal for him he shot 78 after a Saturday 81. Go figure all that out! He’s back for another crack though and a recent win at the Myanmar Open, T11s in the Maybank Championship and last week’s New Zealand Open and a second place at the Panasonic Open on his last start in India suggest he could get involved at the business end.

 

Pablo Larrazabal

Not afraid to tweet his opinions on golf courses, you may want to follow the Spaniard’s timeline to see just what he makes of DLF G&CC. Let’s hope he hasn’t been talking to Eddie Pepperell! Larrazabal is one of the tournament’s form players after top fours in the Maybank Championship and Qatar Masters in his last three starts and he’s four for five in India with a top five (2011) and two top 20s (2010 and 2013) in the Avantha Masters. This will be unlike any of those courses though.

 

Scott Jamieson

The man with the strongest converging trends in the field? It looks that way. For starters, Jamieson battled away to finish tied third here last year and, while other scores oscillated wildly, he kept his pretty consistent with rounds of 70-74-70-72. He returns on the back of a T7 in the Tshwane Open in South Africa last week where he crafted all four rounds in the 60s. In a tricky week, Jamieson is a strong contender to solve the puzzle.


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Dave Tindall is former golf editor at Sky Sports.com in the UK and has been writing betting previews for the European Tour since 1997. He can be reached via e-mail on tindall_david@hotmail.com and on Twitter @davetindallgolf.
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