Chikkarangappa S. of India hopes to realise his childhood dream by emerging victorious at the US$1.75 million Hero Indian Open which starts on Thursday.

The Bengaluru-born golfer played in his first National Open when he was a 15-year-old amateur golfer. Now, with more competition experience and a sharper all-round game, the 24-year-old is looking to put himself into serious contention at the DLF Golf and Country Club.

Chikkarangappa, a two-time Asian Development Tour (ADT) winner, will be among an elite field as he tees up at the 54th Hero Indian Open, which is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour for the fourth consecutive year in 2018.

Compatriot Shiv Kapur had a brilliant 2017, having won three times on the Asian Tour. Winning his National Open will always be his ambition, although, he will be happy with overall improvements in his game even without victories in 2018.

Poom Saksansin of Thailand got through a 19-hour flight from New Zealand to India and while he is physically fatigued, his mind remains fresh and rejuvenated. The young hotshot will be hoping that his relatively shorter driving distance will play to his advantage at the challenging Gary Player layout.

Other notable players in the field include Englishmen Chris Wood and Andrew Johnston, Thomas Bjorn of Denmark as well as Julian Suri of the United States.

Did you know:

  • Chikkarangappa S. won on the ADT twice, and both victories were in India.
  • He had humble beginnings, working as a ball boy and earning US$1 a day.
  • Chikkarangappa finished 61st on the 2017 Asian Tour Order of Merit, securing his Tour card for 2018. He made US$51,431.
  • After winning his first Asian Tour title in 2005, Shiv Kapur waited 11 years to win his second title in 2017.
  • He is the only golfer to win multiple Asian Tour titles last year.
  • Shiv also celebrated off the fairways last year, as he welcomed the birth of his daughter.
  • Poom Saksansin finished the 2017 Asian Tour Order of Merit in eighth position, which secured him a spot at this year’s EurAsia Cup.
  • He has won in India recently, at the 2017 Take Solution Masters.
  • Two golfers have won the Indian Open three times. Jyoti Randhawa, won it in 2000, 2006 and 2007, and Peter Thompson, who won it in 1964, 1966 and 1976.

Player Interviews:

Chikkarangappa S. (Ind)

Of course, winning at home will always be special. The Indian Open means a lot to me and I’m sure for all the Indian players as well, as it is our National Open. It is our dream to have an Indian Open win under our belt and it will be a very proud moment for me if I can get my first Asian Tour win here at the Hero Indian Open.

I have watched this tournament as a junior golfer. I’ve seen this tournament since I was a 12-year-old kid and since then, I’ve always dreamt of playing in the tournament. Fortunately, I had the opportunity three years later when I was 15 years old. Since then, I have played in almost every single Indian Open. The experience has been great. I’ve learned a lot about my game and it has helped me move ahead in my career.

The course is one of the toughest I have played in my career. Anything, it could be your tee shot or wedge play, has to be absolutely 100 per cent. If you miss your shots, you will be punished. This week is going to be really tough for every single player out there.

I love golf courses like these. It suits my game. It’s funky, requires tricky shots. It brings about plenty of positivity. Length-wise, sure, it’s pretty long, but I’ll just have to manage it.

Shiv Kapur (Ind)

To me, this is the most important tournament outside the Majors. Winning their National Open is the highlight of anyone’s career. And, to be able to do it in a city where I grew up, with a title sponsor and golf club that has supported me in my career will be very special.

Winning in India last year and getting the monkey off my back is nice. Now, I can free-wheel a bit more rather than having this pressure of not having won a tournament for a long time.

My form is pretty good. I managed to put myself in Singapore and Malaysia, but I didn’t get the job done over the weekend. I’m glad to be able to ride on the momentum of winning three times in 2017 into 2018. You have to keep expectations in check. My goal this year is to try to be a better golfer in 2018 compared to last year. If I feel that I’m improving my game and contending regularly, my goals are achieved even if I have no wins.

It’s a tough golf course here, but it’s not unfair. Some of the changes here (compared to last year) has made it easier when it comes to decision making. For instance, at the 15th, this year, we won’t be able to aim for the green. We will all be laying up at the same spot. Similarly, at the 17th, lengthening means you can’t aim to hit your ball to the other side of the fairway. Lengthening a golf course doesn’t always make it harder.

The field is fantastic. It’s good to see Indians being mentioned as contenders. There are plenty of young talents here as well. The international field is very strong as well, so the Indians will find it difficult to keep “retain” the title.

Poom Saksansin (Tha)

I am here in India after a 19-hour journey from New Zealand. But, I’m good to go. In fact, I feel reinvigorated mentally.

The golf course here has an engaging layout but is also very challenging. I’m sure not sure what will happen here. I don’t hit long, so I cannot play aggressively. Perhaps, this approach will help me score well at the Hero Indian Open.

Right now, I’m still tweaking my swing. I’m also looking to rediscover myself at this tournament.

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