Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Hero Indian Open 2017 - DLF Country Club

Yet another new course for us to take in this week, this time on the Europeantour as the players head to India. From onsite comments this week from players, caddies and journalists, it seems we could be in for a treat with tight scoring predicted. Following on from Mexico last week, golf tournaments are finally beginning to challenge the players all-round game, and we'll see the same this week on the PGA Tour as players head to Innsbrook for the Valspar Championship, one of the toughest courses on tour. Here in India, we have what appears to be a huge change in course type from the Delhi GC used in recent years.


The Course


DLF CC is a Gary Player Design course which opened in 2015. It forms part of the resort where The Palmer course has been used for the Avantha Masters in the past. This is a long course with multiple tee boxes available to shorten or lengthen the holes each day if needed. The 5th hole, a par-3, resembles Sawgrass' 17th island green but it's the closing 4-5 holes where the fun could be. Two 600yd+ par 5s on 15 & 18 are no respite for a par-3, 275 yd 16th. Reports of the actual length being in play this week are varied between 7,300 - 7,600 yds but it can be assumed that this a course where driving will be key. So too will approach play as the fairways can be quite undulating and many of the greens are big, sloping and fast. Players have predicted the winning score to be in around -10.


Shortlists and Selections


With no previous form to go on, it might have been obvious to stick with the market leaders here as the field strength is quite weak. Anirban Lahiri heads the betting having won his home Open two years ago and finishing runner up to SSP Chawrasia twelve months ago. Indeed, Lahiri has been playing in stronger fields of late and on paper it suggests that this week's tourney is between him and Rafael Cabrera Bello, who surely must win soon? I was initially keen on Peter Uihlein's chances this week but not so keen now at 16s. Kiradech Aphibarnrat should be suited to this course but swing changes of late and a dip in confidence make siding with the Thai, risky. But he can compete in the bigger fields and may just fancy his chances this week if taking to the course. At 25s though, the price is just about fair. Scott Hend though is an interesting runner! One of the biggest hitters on tour, the Aussie seems to produce his best results in the Asian Tour events and if the bigger hitters are to contend at DLF, Hend is sure to be up there. He would make my DFS lineups at Playon.

My first pick is Stephen Gallacher @ 65.00 The Scot has endured a bit of a slump since his Ryder Cup debut three years ago but has started the year in decent form. Maybe that's to be expected as he always produces his best results in the Desert Swing where he made TOP10 in Dubai once again in January although he missed the cut in both Abu Dhabi & Qatar. But form prior to this is encouraging also ; 10th at The Australian PGA and 25th in Hong Kong. He ended the 2016 season with two TOP15 finishes at the British and Portugal Masters. He arrives fresh here this week having not traveled to South Africa and Perth recently. Not a prolific winner on tour but who is in this field? Perhaps Jordan Smith and Roman Langasque will in their time and its exciting times for Phacara Kangwatmai who showed his ability in Perth at the Super6. But for this week, I can't ignore the possible course suitability for the Scotsman and he could be inspired to win again having witnessed his good friend, Paul Lawrie do just that in South Africa only last month.

I will conclude the staking plan this week with the home favourite Anirban Lahiri @ 9.00 Having backed the Indian in Dubai and Malaysia, it could be a case of third time lucky. From interviews on Europeantour, Lahiri has indicated that solid ball striking is a requirement of which he excels at. He's shown in previous events that the added pressure being the home player doesn't affect him and he can make his trip home a profitable one.

I was tempted by a TOP20 bet on Jyoti Randhawa this week who has a fantastic record in his home Open. Although now divorced, he will be joined by his brother-in-law in the field, Digvijay Singh, and he could be worth a play in that market.

Selections


3.00 pts win A. Lahiri @ 9.00
0.50 pts win S. Gallacher @ 65.00
2.50 pts TOP20 S.Gallacher @ 3.25