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2023 Hero Indian Open Preview, Picks & Analysis

By: | Mon 20 Feb 2023 | Comments

THE Indian Open returns for the first time since 2019, when Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher claimed the title. Gallacher’s victory was a surprise - home golfers normally dominate this event, and Shubhankar Sharma will be looking to continue that at DLF Golf & Country Club this week. 

Although he is still only 26, Sharma turned professional in 2013 and played on the Asian Development Tour in 2014. He finished fourth in the Panasonic Open on the Asian Tour that year.

From 2015 to 2017, Sharma focused on the Asian Tour, losing the 2015 Indian Masters in a playoff. The following week he was fourth in the Panasonic Open again. In 2016, Sharma finished third in the Bangladesh Open and tied for fourth in there Manila Masters on his way to finishing 51st in the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit.

Sharma started 2017 finishing fourth in the Bangladesh Open and enjoyed a top-10 finish in the Masybank Championship, a tournament jointly sanctioned with the European Tour. He struggled for the rest of the year until another top-10 finish at Hong Kong Open in November. 

Two weeks later he hit the headlines at the Joburg Open, where a second round of 61, followed by a 65, gave him a five-stroke lead at the start of the last round. The final round was delayed by bad weather but Sharma finished with a 69 for a three-stroke win. The event was part of the Open Qualifying Series and the win gave him an entry to the 2018 Open and earned him full membership of the DP World Tour.

And in February 2018 he shot a final round of 62 to win the Maybank Championship, lifting him into the top 100 in the world rankings for the first time.

Shubhanker Sharma

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

He also took an early lead in the Race to Dubai, earning him a place at the 2018 WGC-Mexico Championship, where he led after 54 holes before closing with a 74 to finish ninth in what was his first start in a PGA Tour event. He then received an invitation to play in The Masters, making him only the fourth Indian after Jeev Milka Singh, Arjun Atwal and Anirban Lahiri to play at Augusta.

He capped a stunning debut season by claiming the 2018 Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award.

It has been something of a struggle since but there have been some encouraging performances recently and he would love nothing more than to win his home Open.

Robert MacIntyre will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of countryman Gallacher, who will defend the title he won in 2019 later this month, when he makes his maiden appearance in India.

The Scot, a two-time DP World Tour winner, formed part of the Great Britain and Ireland team at the Hero Cup earlier this year and is excited to visit India for the first time in his young career as he aims to accumulate enough points to earn a maiden Ryder Cup appearance later this year.

“As soon as I heard the Hero Indian Open was back on the schedule it was one I immediately earmarked to play,” the 26-year-old said.

“I have watched previous events on television and the course looks absolutely stunning. I think it could be one that suits my game, having spoke to Stevie about it as well, so I’m really looking forward to heading over there later this month.

“I thought both the Hero Cup and the Hero Dubai Desert Classic earlier this year were great events and I’m sure the Hero Indian Open will be no different.”

MacIntyre will be joined on the Gary Player layout by Nicolai Højgaard, who has two DP World Tour wins to his name, and who also holds aspirations of securing a spot at Marco Simone later this year.

Højgaard, who won 3.5 points as Continental Europe won the Hero Cup last month, already has top ten finishes at the Australian Open and the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in the 2023 season and is looking to build on his solid start at the Hero Indian Open.

“I am pleased with my start to the year and hopefully I’ll be able to continue where I left off in Delhi,” he said.

“I’ve never been to India before so I’m really looking forward to experiencing something new. Dr Munjal and Hero always look after us incredibly well in any event they’re involved with so I am looking forward to another great tournament.

“This is a big year for all Europeans as we aim for a spot on the Ryder Cup team and I am no different. I would love to tee it up in a Ryder Cup - ideally along with my brother - and that is my main goal for the year, but I know it is a by-product of playing good, consistent golf.”

Joining the duo of Ryder Cup hopefuls in India will be fellow Hero Cup player Guido Migliozzi.

Tournament Winners

It was won in 2015 by Anirban Lahiri, in 2016 and 2017 by SSP Chawrasia, in 2018 by Matt Wallace and in 2019 by Stephen Gallacher. This the first time the tournament has been played since 2019.

The Course

DLF Golf and Country Club is a par 72 measuring 7,380 yards. It features two “proper” par fives on the back nine - the 15th is 631 yards and the 18th measures 624 yards. And the 16th is a brute of as par three that stretches to 256 yards.

To Win:

Shubhankar Sharma. Playing some decent stuff

Each Way:

Nicolai Hojgaard. Also has Ryder Cup ambitions

Players to Follow:

Shubhankar Sharma. Nearly back to his very best

Nicolai Hojgaard. Now finding some proper consistency

Guido Migliozzi. Very impressive iron player

Robert MacIntyre. Looking to recapture his best form

Five Outsiders to Watch:

Lucas Bjerregaard. Looking to rediscover his best

SSP Chawrasia. Not the player he was but loves this event

Shiv Kapur. Home favourite

Alex Fitzpatrick. Looking to follow in his brother’s footsteps

Ricardo Gouveia. Big hitter

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What do you think? leave your comments below (Comments)

Tags: european tour dp world tour


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