Randhawa returns to scene of four titles with high hopes
Indian stalwart Jyoti Randhawa hopes a return to one of his favourite hunting grounds will lead him to victory at the SAIL Open which starts on Tuesday.
Randhawa, Asia’s number one in 2002, has won four Asian Tour titles at the venerable Delhi Golf Club and he is confident of adding more silverware in the US$300,000 full field event.
Among the other top players who are tipped to sparkle in the SAIL Open, which is celebrating its third edition, include defending champion Chapchai Nirat of Thailand, Singapore’s Lam Chih Bing, Australian Marcus Both and Indian rising star Gaganjeet Bhullar.
Such is the depth of this week’s elite field that Randhawa is one of the 29 Asian Tour winners featuring at the Delhi Golf Club and he hopes to put his knowledge of the golf course to good use.
“I have played this golf course many times. I know how to play it and that certainly helps. I would say it will give me an advantage over the others,” said Randhawa today.
Having successfully defended his Hero Honda Indian Open crown in 2007 on the same course, Randhawa believes that astute course management will be the key to victory this week.
“This is a unique golf course that you won’t find anywhere around the world. It is very penalizing if you don’t hit the fairway. The fairways are wide but you’ve got to plan your shots carefully. You can’t just take out your driver and hit it everywhere. It is going to be interesting,” said the Indian, who is a winner of eight titles on the Asian Tour.
Big-hitting Chapchai, who set a new world 72-hole scoring record of 32-under-par 256 en route to victory last year albeit on a different course, is upbeat of his defence. “It will be down to irons and three woods this week. It will be very tough for golfers but I’m confident of my chances,” said Chapchai, a three-time Asian Tour winner.
“My season started slowly earlier in the year but my form has improved. I tried to make some swing changes after my victory at the SAIL Open last year but I couldn’t get use to it. My swing is feeling more comfortable now and I’m confident of doing well,” he added.
Bhullar, 21, got his season off to a flying start when he won the season-opening Asian Tour International in Bangkok and he hopes to follow in the footsteps of Randhawa, whom he rates as one of India’s golfing legends.
“This golf course is very prestigious for all Indian golfers and it gives us the opportunity to do well.
“It won’t be easy especially with Jyoti in the field. He is a legend in India and has won here many times. But I’m in good shape and my form is up there, so I’m looking forward to this week,” said Bhullar.
Since winning the Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open last season, Both has endured a slow patch where he has uncharacteristically missed three consecutive cuts. However, the Australian is confident of turning the corner at the SAIL Open.
“I have been resting but also practicing. Sometimes, the travelling can be quite tiring so taking some time off was good. I believe I’m in a right frame of mind now so let’s see what happens this week.
“A few things worked but some of the changes caused some problems. I’m trying to manage that. But it feels like my game is starting to come back. My ball flight is straighter and I have to set my mind on focusing this week. My victory is in the past and I have to set my mind on playing as well as I possibly can,” said Both.
Other Indian golfers who will be playing this week include C. Muniyappa, Anirban Lahiri, Rahil Gangjee and S.S.P Chowrasia.
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