Off the golf course, Shiv Shankar Prasad Chawrasia is the most genial of men. The two-time Hero Indian Open winner always has a smile on his face and a twinkly demeanour. But put a club in his hands, and a different person emerges, all steel, focus and yes, even aggression. Chawrasia is at the $2 million Hero Indian Open 2023 determined to break a streak dating back to 2017 when a home golfer lifted the handsome trophy. That year, the Kolkatan spreadeagled the field to win by a massive seven shots, unexpected from a golfer who doesn’t smear the ball off the tee and send it lines down the fairway. Chawrasia’s game is built around accuracy, not distance, and it has paid off even on a course generally reckoned to favour the big hitters.
Speaking on the current edition that tees off on Thursday, Chawrasia , who has four titles on the DP World (European) Tour noted that as the national Open, this event had a special meaning for every Indian golfer. This year as many as 31 home golfers are in the field including past winner Jyoti Randhawa, multiple Asian Tour titleist Gaganjeet Bhullar, 2022 PGTI Order of Merit topper Manu Gandas and DP World tour regular Shubhankar Sharma.
“To be honest it’s a very important tournament for us Indian golfers as a win here opens many more opportunities for us to play on the DP World Tour,” the 44-year-old said.
“I think it’s a good thing that the PGTI has opened a door to Europe as more Indians can graduate from the domestic tour to a much higher level. Already the winner of last year’s Order of Merit, Manu Gandas has a full card for this year for Europe.”
Chawrasia said he would look to repeat his approach of the past years on the testing Gary Player course that has unsettled even experienced overseas golfers.
“I like to hit it straight and if I can get on the green with 10 feet or less to putt, I always back myself. Shoot straight and keep the putt numbers low was the way for me in the past and it worked pretty well.”
Top overseas golfers in the field include last week’s winner in Thailand, Thorbjørn Olesen., defending champion from 2019, Stephen Gallacher from Scotland, countryman Robert MacIntyre and Danes Nicolai Højgaard and Ryden Cup-winning captain Thomas Bjorn.
Other prominent Indian names in the field besides Chawrasia are Shiv Kapur, Rashid Khan, Ajeetesh Sandhu, Khalin Joshi, Udayan Mane, Shamim Khan, Chikkarangappa S., Veer Ahlawat, Karandeep Kochhar, Yuvraj Singh Sandhu and current PGTI Rankings leader Sachin Baisoya
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