Indian Golfers all set ready for Panasonic Open -2017
New Delhi(News4city Desk)-: India’s Arjun Atwal, whose last win in India came at this very course in 2003 is looking forward to playing again on familiar winning ground when he begins his chase for individual glory at the Panasonic Open India, which begins at the Delhi Golf Club on Thursday.
Yet at the same time, he will keep one eye open to spot at good candidates for Captain’s Picks, which he will need to make as the Captain of the Asian Team for the EurAsia Cup in January 2018.
Atwal, to date the only Indian to have tasted success on the PGA Tour, has eight wins on the Asian Tour and of them, three were co-sanctioned with the European Tour. He also has one win each on Nationwide and PGA Tours. Atwal’s last win came in Dubai in 2014 on Asian Tour, and he is itching to get another win.
“It’s nice to be playing at home again for the second time this year, especially at a place like Delhi Golf Club. I’ve been playing here since my junior days and I had a bit of success here. The year has been patchy for me. I would have liked to have a consistent run going and I think I’m pretty close to getting it going,” said Atwal.
Atwal will lead Team Asia at a biennial match-play event in Malaysia in early 2018 and while he is excited about taking on the non-playing captaincy role, he says “I’m hoping for a good showing here for myself while keeping an eye on in-form and hot players on Tour right now so that I can make my captain’s picks.”
Talking about his captaincy job, he said, “I am looking forward to that responsibility. It should be fun and yet challenging. Asia now has solid talent and I would love to be with them. I have always had great fun in Malaysia. I won twice there in 2003 and 2008, so I have great memories of Malaysia and it should be interesting to go back in a new role.”
Of his own form, he said, “I have played very little this year. But I will be playing a lot in the next two months. I will also get a start on PGA Tour at RSM Classic. I will play Manila next week and then go to US for RSM Classic and then back to Hong Kong and Mauritius. That will also help me play my minimum.”
Featuring one of the strongest Indian contingents ever, the Panasonic Open India field includes every top Indian pro, barring the US-based Anirban Lahiri, and the legendary Jeev Milkha Singh, who pulled out at the last minute because of an injury sustained on his left following a freak incident. He hurt his left elbow while trying to open a coconut water bottle. “I was really looking forward to this week, but I need to rest and allow the elbow to heel,” said Jeev.
The field includes all four Indians, who have tasted success on the Asian Tour this season. Leading the way is SSP Chawrasia, who successfully defended his Hero Indian Open earlier this year, and he is followed by Shiv Kapur, who won in Yeangder Heritage, Ajeetesh Sandhu, winner at the Yeangder TPC and Gaganjeet Bhullar at Macao Open.
Jyoti Randhawa, who now divides his time between golf and ‘adventure sports’, is the most successful player at DGC, having won four Asian Tour titles here, besides another couple of Indian tour titles. “These days I play to enjoy myself and I am loving it,” said Randhawa, who was Tied-2nd with Rashid Khan last year, as Mukesh won the title.
Gaganjeet Bhullar and Shiv Kapur are both back to their winning ways, while Ajeetesh Sandhu has just broken through. Rashid Khan, twice winner on Asian Tour in the past, has not won since 2014 but looks ready to do so on his home turf, just as he did for his maiden win in 2014.
Meanwhile the young brigade with likes of Shubhankar Sharma, Khalin Joshi, S Chikkarangappa and Udayan Mane will also fancy their chances.
The international challenge will include the most successful of all Asian Tour stars, Thaworn Wiratchant, who has 18 titles on the Tour. However, he has not won since his Kings Cup and Queen’s Cup double in 2014.