Defending champion Anirban Lahiri and three-time Major champion Padraig Harrington will headline one of the strongest-ever fields to assemble at the Hero Indian Open.
Featuring alongside the marquee names, a strong field of players from Europe and Asia will once again return for the 52nd edition of India’s National Open to be held from March 17 to 20, 2016.
The event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour for the second straight year will carry an enhanced prize purse of US$1.66 million at the historic Delhi Golf Club in the national capital.
The Hero Indian Open will see in action all top Indian players, who between them have won numerous international titles. The Indian field includes Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal, SSP Chawrasia, Shiv Kapur, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Rashid Khan, Rahil Gangjee, Himmat Rai and Chiragh Kumar among others.
The roster of former champions includes Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh, Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand, Mardan Mamat of Singapore and India’s Atwal.
While Lahiri defends his title, Chawrasia, four-time runner-up at this iconic event, will attempt to go one better at the course, where he has won twice, and was second in the last two editions of the Hero Indian Open.
Continuing its association with golf in general and the Hero Indian Open, which now enters its second decade – Hero MotoCorp will be Title Sponsor of this iconic event for the 11th consecutive year.
Pawan Munjal, Chairman, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Hero MotoCorp Ltd said, “Indian golf is steadily finding its rightful place in the global golfing community. With the phenomenal success of Anirban Lahiri and others across the globe, golf is rapidly becoming a popular sport among the youngsters in the country, and we are glad to have played the catalyst in this movement. Hero MotoCorp has been associated with golf for more than two decades now, nurturing the game since its nascent days. The Hero Indian Open has been co-sanctioned by the European Tour since last year – an acknowledgement of the rising stature of Indian golf in the world arena.”
“I have seen Padraig Harrington play at the Majors and am glad the three-time Major winner will be here to play in the Hero Indian Open. I am sure, with his presence, and that of a strong Indian line-up, this year’s edition is going to offer some exciting golf for all the fans,” he added.
Asian Tour Commissioner Kyi Hla Han said: “On behalf of the Asian Tour, we are delighted to welcome the Hero Indian Open on our 2016 Schedule. The storied event has featured prominently on Schedule for many years and it has propelled the careers of many of our players including defending champion Anirban, who went on to win the Order of Merit in 2015.”
“The Hero Indian Open is a flagship event for the sport in Asia and it has been the pride of Indian Golf Union for over half a century. Its rich history is virtually the history of Indian golf and we have had champions of high quality in the past. And it is always great to see Indians win the Indian Open and it will be great to have Anirban return to defend his title,” said Mr. Anil Seolekar, President of the Indian Golf Union.
“The Hero Indian Open has been the most-eagerly awaited event in the Indian golf calendar. As one of the premier and oldest events in Asia, it boasts of a great legacy and tradition. And this year, we will have an India’s ace Anirban Lahiri defending his title. We at Nimbus are proud to be associated with such a historic event that pits the best of India against the rest of the world,” said Mr. Vaibhav Agarwal, Vice-President, Nimbus Sport.
Keith Waters, Chief Operating Officer for the European Tour, said: “Firstly, we are delighted to see Anirban returning to Delhi to defend his national open title. India is an incredibly important market for golf, and we look forward to working with our partners at the Indian Golf Union, Nimbus Sport and of course the Asian Tour to continuing to develop and grow the game through the Hero Indian Open in this amazing country.”
GOLDEN PERIOD OF HARRINGTON
Harrington, one of the sporting icons of Ireland, won his first Major in 2007 at the British Open in Carnoustie, when he beat Sergio Garcia in a four-hole play-off and became the first Irishman to win the Open in 60 years.
The next year an injured Harrington was uncertain of even teeing up at the Open in Birkdale. But not only did he play, he went on to win his second successive Open and became the first European in more than 100 years to retain the Open. Three weeks later, he added a third Major, the PGA Championships at Oakland Hills, to become the first European to win the PGA Championships in 78 years.
Harrington has 30 professional wins across the world. Fourteen of them have come on European Tour, six on PGA Tour and he has also won four times in Asia and once in Japan, making him a truly global golfer. His win in Japan came in a play-off with Tiger Woods at the Dunlop Phoenix Open in 2006.
LAHIRI’S WIN WAS A DREAM COME TRUE AT HERO INDIAN OPEN
Lahiri, 28, now ranked inside World?s Top-50 and who featured in all four Majors and the Presidents Cup last year, won the Hero Indian Open in a remarkable run of three weeks, during which he won two times on the Tour, to hit global headlines.
As he made his way through a global schedule, Lahiri finished tied-fifth at the PGA Championships, to register the best finish ever by an Indian at a Major. He also made cuts at the Masters and The Open.
Even as he attained new heights in the game and went on to earn a PGA Tour card for 2016, Lahiri ranked the win at the Hero Indian Open as „achieving a lifelong dream?.
As he returns to defend his title, Lahiri said, “Winning the Hero Indian Open was a lifelong dream and to be able to come back and defend one?s own National Open title is indeed a matter of pride. This was one of the proudest moments in my career.”
Lahiri is currently playing on the PGA Tour and will arrive into India straight from the World Golf Championships.
Lahiri is now the front runner for the Olympic berth as the sport returns to the Games after a gap of more than 100 years. Golf was last played at the Olympic Games in 1904.
Lahiri has represented India at the Asian Games (and won a team silver); has played the World Cup; the EurAsia Cup for Asia; and been on the International Team at the Presidents Cup.
Entries are still being received and the final list of players will be known closer to the event. But all top Indian stars are expected to tee up at the DGC, which after hosting the inaugural edition in 1964, has hosted the Open more than half the number of times in its 52-year-long existence.
Nimbus Sport, which has promoted the Hero Indian Open since 2011, has acquired the rights to manage the tournament after it got co-sanctioned by Asian Tour and European Tour in 2015 as well.
Apart from Hero MotoCorp, the other sponsors in the Hero Indian Open are Rolex, Emirates, DP World, Jumeirah Golf Estates, BMW, Titleist and Golf Plus Magazine.