NEW DELHI: Anirban Lahiri will be among the strong contenders at what can be considered his happy hunting ground when he leads the Indian charge at the Asian and European Tour co-sanctioned Hero Indian Open golf tournament starting here tomorrow.
Lahiri, who is the highest ranked player in the elite field where he sits in 39th position on the Official World Golf Ranking, will challenge for top honours at the Delhi Golf Club against title holder Siddikur Rahman and Spain legend Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Scott Hend of Australia, a six-time Asian Tour winner, Jyoti Randhawa, only the second player to win three Indian Open titles, Thaworn Wiratchant, Jeev Milkha Singh and Marcus Fraser will also feature in the event which is sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour for the first time.
"We have four Asian Tour members win the last four co-sanctioned events. It will be nice to continue that streak. It is nice to have so many of our members winning events but I would like to say that I want an Indian to keep this trophy on home soil," says Lahiri.
"This is the event you want to win as an Indian. The Indian Open is a tournament which is steep in history. Delhi Golf Club has such a fantastic history to it. It is definitely one of those events where you want to play and win it," he added.
Apart from Lahiri, who won three Asian Tour titles at DGC, the focus will also be on Spanish star Jimenez, who will play on Indian soil for the first time since 2008. Ranked 45th in the world right now, Jimenez is wary of the tree-lined course.
"It's going to be very difficult to keep the ball under control from the rough, so I think to have a chance of winning you have to be playing from the fairway.
The tee shots will be the most important factor this week. If you can keep it in play off the tee then you will build the score from there," Lahiri said.
Also there would be rising Indian star Rashid Khan, who won his first Asian Tour title at the Delhi Golf Club last year before going on to win in Thailand.
Besides, the seasoned Jeev would also look to shake off his ordinary run of form which coincided with injury breakdowns.
"I'm very excited to be back. It has been a while since I've come back to play at my National Open. I'm injury-free. I got my distance back.
Honestly speaking, I haven't hit the ball as good as this compared to the last two years. The results haven't shown but I'm working on the right stuff. I think I'll have some good weeks this year," an optimistic Jeev has said.
Another player to watch out for is big-hitting Australian Scott Hend, who finished tied second in Thailand last week. He is one of the most successful international golfers on the Asian Tour and a top pick to win the title this week.