Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Hero Indian Open 2016 - Khan Rashid sail to Victory ?

European Tour action returns to Delhi GC for the second time this week and we'll be treated to a different type of golf game to that what we have been viewing the past few weeks. A tight course measuring just 6900 yards will see a lot of players taking irons off the tees to ensure some accuracy from tee to green. It's a course that has been used extensively on the Asian Tour and a lot of the home players as well as their fello Asian Tour peers will have played this course a number of times. Indeed the field this week sees a number of multiple course winners teeing it up on Thursday.

The Course

Delhi GC is a very tight 7,000 yard course which will punish any errant shot. Trees galore from tee to green means those with a wayward drive will struggle to post a score. Players need accuracy throughout and it won't hurt to have a solid scrambling game this week. As alluded to in my post for this event in 2015, the course has a lot of affinity with Australian golfers.

The Ones to Beat

Home favourite Anirban Lahiri will defend his title that he won in dramatic fashion from his compatriot SSP Chawrasia in a playoff twelve months ago. Lahiri has played eight events on the PGA Tour this season producing results of 21-40-28-mc-33-39-mc-28. He has been in much stronger fields this season and will be the one to beat this week on home turf!

Ireland's Pádraig Harrington will play here for the first time and as indicated during his commentary stint on Sky Sports last Saturday night during the Valspar Championship, he hopes to gain some confidence in a smaller ranking field and apply himself under tournament pressure come Sunday. The Dubliner obviously fancies his chances so in this weakish field, but Delhi GC may have other ideas! In fairness though, Pádraig has the game to plot his way round and post a score that will ask  a few questions. Joost Luiten has had a terrific start to 2016 where he has produced six TOP20s from all six starts. Four are T10s and 2 are TOP5s. He should keep that momentum going this week too and would be on nearly everyone's initial shortlist. So too, should the Malaysia Open Champion, Marcus Fraser. I tipped Fraser here in 2015 and I'm inclined to look at the Aussie again this week too, especially as he is in better form this time round having won in Malaysia last month ! He was third here last time and could have won but for a cold putter on the Sunday. He backed up his win in Malaysia with a TOP15 in Perth before storming to a first round lead at Doral on a course not really suited to his game. He's had last week off to relax and should be confident of another good showing here this week.


Whilst Lahiri and Luiten are the two players to beat this week, I do think Fraser can atone for his near miss last year and capitalize on recent good form. He's taken to win his second tournament of the season. Rashid Khan is a player to look out for this week too. Like many of compatriots playing here this week, he has solid course form having won the 2014 SAIL Open here following his 2nd place finish the year previously. A New Delhi native, he grew up as a caddie at the course and was introduced to golf there by his uncle who was attached to Delhi GC. Khan should be quietly confident of improving on his TOP25 finish here last year and has been in solid form of late with a TOP25 placing in Thailand. He was 11th at the recent Panasonic Open in November on this course too suggesting he does play better when back home and he's worth a bet in the TOP20 market.

Finally, Carlos Pigem has been teasing leaderboards of late, particularly in Thailand where he played strongly in his opening two rounds only to fall back down for a 40th placing. The Spaniard has finished 4th on this course at the aforementioned Sail Open and arrives having posted a  number of TOP30s in his most recent starts prior to Black Mountain.

1.5 pts WIN M. Fraser @ 19.00

1.5 pts TOP20 C. Pigem @ 6.50

3.0 pts TOP20 R.Khan @ 4.50

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