The seventh edition of the Hero Women’s Indian Open golf tournament will tee off at the Delhi Golf Club here on Thursday.
And one thing is certain – in the absence of any former winner of the tournament, the event will have a new winner this year.
The Indian challenge will be led by Sharmila Nicollet, the only Indian to play on the Ladies European Tour. Local hopefuls would be banking on home advantage to try and get the first Indian winner of the $300,000 event, the biggest professional golf tournament for women in the country.
The three-day competition will see 107 golfers taking part including 19 Indians and tournament favourites like Gwladys Nocera of France, Holly Clyuburn of England and Chung Ye Na of Korea. Three times winner and defending champion Phatlum Pornanong, currently playing on the LPGA tour, has decided to skip the event.
“Playing here will definitely be an advantage though there is a lot of expectation. I am aiming for a top-10 finish,” admitted Nicollet. The cut will be applied to the top 60 professionals and ties after Round 2.
Vani Kapoor, who honed her skills on the DGC and is second on the Hero Order of Merit 2013, said the cheering crowd will be an advantage but the course could not be taken lightly.
“The course is in good condition but it will be challenging. My main target is to make sure I keep the ball in play,” she said.
Neha Tripathi, leading the Order of Merit, felt it would be tough for an Indian to win the tournament.
“I am confident of my game but so are many others. A lot of players are doing very well. Knowing the course helps but that will not make it any easier for an Indian to go for a win here,” she said. The DGC is hosting the event for the first time.
Nicollet, who got injured in April this year, said there was no pain now but was not 100 per cent fit. The event is tri-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour (LET), the Ladies Asian Golf Tour (LAGT) and the Women’s Golf Association of India (WGAI).