|New Delhi, February 1: Defending champion S.S.P. Chawrasia and 2015 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion Anirban Lahiri will return for yet another shot at glory when the Hero Indian Open, which boosts an increased prize fund of US$1.75 million, tees off at the Gary Player course at DLF Golf and Country Club from March 9-12.
Co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour for the third time since 2015, the Hero Indian Open has enjoyed a significant increase in prize money, which is almost six times more than US$300,000, when Hero took on the Indian Open in 2005.
Fellow Olympians Chawrasia and Lahiri, who have either won or finished second in each of the last three editions of the Hero Indian Open, are expected to spearhead the local challenge against the leading players from the Asian Tour and the European Tour.
Having finished runner-up on four occasions in 1999, 2006, 2013 and 2015, Chawrasia finally pipped fellow Lahiri and Korea’s Jeunghun Wang to the coveted title in 2016, just a year after Lahiri had edged Chawrasia out in the play-off in 2015.
Interestingly, in the edition before that, in 2013 at the 50th anniversary of the tournament, both Lahiri and Chawrasia shared second place after being outclassed by Bangladeshi Siddikur Rahman.
Mr. Pawan Munjal, Chairman, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Hero MotoCorp Ltd said, “Indian golf is at a very exciting juncture, as it has begun making a mark on virtually all golf Tours across the world. The Hero Indian Open is on the European Tour platform for the third year in a row and the field has steadily become stronger. Amidst this the exciting news is that Indian players have still managed to hold their own, having won the title last two editions.”
“The tournament shifts to the lovely but challenging Gary Player layout at the DLF. We have great memories of the Gary Player course, for it was not too long back, that at very venue we had Aditi Ashok become the first Indian woman to win the Hero Women’s Indian Open, which meant both the men’s and women’s Hero Indian Opens had Indian champions. Hopefully we can keep that going.”
The 2017 Hero Indian Open will become the first men’s international event to be played at the Gary Player course at the DLF Golf and Country Club. The tournament has been played only before at the DLF, but at the Arnold Palmer course, back in 2009, when C Muniyappa won the title.
Keith Waters, Chief Operating Officer of the European Tour, said: "We're delighted to include the Hero Indian Open on the European Tour International Schedule for the third consecutive year. The co-sanctioning of the event is an important part of our strategic alliance with the Asian Tour, which continues to go from strength to strength, and has been of real benefit to Indian golfers who have had the opportunity to develop their careers on the European Tour.
"Our sincere thanks go to Hero Motorcorp for their valuable support, not only of this event, but across the European Tour.
"The Hero Indian Open has a rich history, and I'm sure we can expect another exciting tussle between SSP Chawrasia and Anirban Lahiri, amongst a field of emerging and established European Tour and Asian Tour stars."
Asian Tour Chief Executive Officer, Josh Burack, said: “On behalf of the Asian Tour, we are delighted to welcome the Hero Indian Open once again our 2017 Schedule. The historic event has featured prominently on Schedule for many years and it has propelled the careers of many of our players including our latest two champions. Anirban Lahiri, the winner in 2015 and SSP Chawrasia, the defending champion, have done Asian Tour proud and we see them going from strength to strength.”
Wg Cdr Satish Aparajit, President of the Indian Golf Union said: "The Hero Indian Open has been the pride of Indian Golf Union for over half a century. It's rich history is virtually the history of Indian golf and we have had very quality champions in the past. For us, it gives us great pleasure to see Indians win the Indian Open, as it shows that Indian golf is progressing in the right direction.
Mr Aakash Ohri, Senior Executive Director, DLF Home Developers Ltd said: “DLF is happy to be associated with the Hero Indian Open 2017 and host the event at the DLF Golf & Country Club's Gary Player course. This is the first time the men's tour will play an event on the new course and we look forward to welcoming the players to DLF. The course is gearing up to provide pristine conditions in the second week of March and we are sure that the players will enjoy the challenge on the course, and the new facilities that the club has to offer.”