Siddikur Rahman plans to bounce back from a run of poor results at his favourite hunting ground when he defends his title at the US$1.5 million Hero Indian Open which starts on Thursday.
The popular Bangladeshi uncharacteristically missed the cut in his last two events but hopes to rediscover his best form when he contends at the Delhi Golf Club, a venue where he has one win and eight other top-10s, including two runner-up results.
Siddikur will face strong challenges from the home front led by an in-form Anirban Lahiri, Rashid Khan, who won twice in 2014, Jeev Milkha Singh, a two-time Asian Tour number one, S.S.P. Chawrasia, Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa at the event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain, who returns to India for the first time since 2008, Scott Hend of Australia, Prom Meesawat of Thailand, Angelo Que of the Philippines and Richard T. Lee of Canada, the 2013 Asian Tour Rookie of the Year, will also feature in the elite field.
“I feel at peace and happy here. I don’t feel any pressure even though I’m defending my title this week. When you do bad or good, it is part of golf. I learn a lot from my mistakes and that has helped me improve,” said Siddikur, a two-time Asian Tour winner.
“I feel great because I have good memories on this course. I played one of my best golf in my career at the 2013 Hero Indian Open. This is my favourite golf course and I’m looking forward to this week.”
The 30-year-old hopes to strike it hot with his irons which he reckons will be the key to success this week. With his coach Shane Gillespie and wife Samaun Anjum Auroni by his side, Siddikur is determined to retain the title.
“My coach is with me and he is motivating me. According to my stats, I’m not hitting enough greens in regulation. That’s my strongest point in the past. My short game is there but I’m not finding enough greens to go low,” Siddikur explained.
Home favourite Khan, who enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2014 where he won twice, aims to find for more consistency in his game.
“I just need one good week and I’ll be more confident after that. I did a lot of mistakes last year. I won two events but I wasn’t consistent. I always had one bad round so I want to avoid that this year. I want to make less mistakes and be myself on the course,” said Khan.
“Now my game is at the next level where I can’t afford to make mistakes. If you look at the last two events, the winners won by one shot so that’s what I need to learn,” added the 24-year-old.
Prom, a two-time Asian Tour winner, will leave the driver out of the golf bag when he challenges for honours at the tricky DGC course, which is known for its narrow fairways.
“We know this golf course well and we’ve played here many times. My driver is back in my room! That’s the plan when I play on this golf course. I never use the driver on this course. I used it when I played on this course earlier in my career but I’ve learnt from that mistake!” said the Thai.
He finished third on the Order of Merit last year and is slowly finding his groove in the new season where he finished tied 25th and 31st in Malaysia and Thailand respectively.
“I’ve found my rhythm after practising and playing competitively. I feel that I’m slowly finding my best form again. This is another good week for the Asian Tour players to win again. We’ve enjoyed some good winners in the co-sanctioned events and I think we can continue to do that,” said Prom.