Title holder Siddikur aims for repeat win at Hero Indian Open

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Bangladeshi trailblazer Siddikur Rahman is relishing a return to his favourite hunting ground at the Delhi Golf Club (DGC) next week, a venue which has rewarded him with a string of top results including an emphatic victory at the 2013 Hero Indian Open.

The popular Bangladeshi has played in 11 Asian Tour events at the venerable DGC since 2010 and has posted one win and eight other top-10s, including two runner-up finishes.  His fine record will make him as one of the top contenders at the US$1.5 million Hero Indian Open, which will be sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour for the first time from February 19-22.

Thai veteran star Thaworn Wiratchant, who is a two-time Hero Indian Open champion, Angelo Que of the Philippines, Prayad Marksaeng, an eight-time Asian Tour winner, Englishman Steve Lewton and Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain will also feature at the prestigious event along with the in-form Anirban Lahiri, who won the co-sanctioned Maybank Malaysian Open last week.

Joining them in the elite field include former Indian Open champions Arjun Atwal, C. Muniyappa, Jyoti Randhawa, Firoz Ali and David Gleeson of Australia.

Siddikur, the first Bangladeshi to play and win on the Asian Tour, recently married Samaun Anjum Auroni in Dhaka, and he hopes to give himself the perfect wedding gift by successfully retaining his Hero Indian Open, which was not staged last year.

“I’ve known Auroni for a long time. In fact, I met her on the golf course. She’s actually a single handicapper and she’s good for me. She’s not only a boost to my personal life but also my career as she knows the game and gives me a good test from time to time,” smiled Siddikur.

The 30-year-old Siddikur, who was part of Team Asia who secured a thrilling 10-10 tie with Europe at the inaugural EurAsia Cup in Malaysia last year, believes his straight-shooting game will continue to be a good omen when he arrives at the DGC.

“You must have a lot of patience there. I’ve played on the course many times and I know the it well. It is a course which definitely suits my game because I’m a straight hitter. You must really plan your shots properly,” said Siddikur.

Korea’s Wang Jeung-hun, Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand and Mithun Perera of Sri Lanka, who lost in a play-off at the 2014 Panasonic Open India at the same venue, are among the notable young and rising stars aiming for a career first victory next week.

The 19-year-old Wang, who did not miss a single cut last season, was denied a maiden victory by Atwal at the season-ending Dubai Open last December after dropping bogeys over his closing two holes.

He put in the extra hours in practice during the off-season to prepare for 2015 and enjoyed a tied 14th finish in Malaysia last week after bouncing back from a poor opening round of 77.

“I was very sad after losing in Dubai. But I forgot about it after one week. It was not easy but I wanted to restart again for the new season. My goal this year is very simple. I want to win. I want to win one Asian Tour event. I will work hard for it until I finally win,” said Wang.

After finishing in the top-60 on the Order of Merit for the fourth straight season to keep his full playing rights, the stocky Perera has the self-belief that a long-awaited first win is just around the corner. He came close last year at DGC but finished second after losing in a play-off.

“My tee shot accuracy, my irons and putting stroke are all good. Just need to get these to work better and then hope to have some luck and win my first tournament on the Asian Tour,” said the 28-year-old, who is the son to Nandasena, a famous name on the old Asian circuit during the 1980s and 1990s.

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