We preview this week's European Tour event, the Hero Indian Open.
The Hero Indian Open makes its debut at the DLF Golf and Country Club on the outskirts of Delhi. Since the event became a European Tour co-sanctioned event, Indian players have won on both occasions. This season sees more eclectic field, with many of the middle ranking European Tour players making the trip. Rafa Cabrera-Bello is the world’s highest ranked player in participation, and he faces the prospect of a daunting plane trip from Mexico to Delhi this week.
This season seems like it will be more difficult for the domestic players to compete, with this new course far more forgiving off the tee and absolutely gigantic in length. At 7.657 Yards, this par 72 is a veritable monster, with water in play on seven holes. The par 3 5th has an island green and will hopefully draw similar enthusiasm to the hallowed 17th at Sawgrass. The par 3 17th is over 250 yards in length, while the closing par 5 is over 600 yards in length. This course should suit those with length off the tee.
This is an important event for many of the players in the middlemost section of the European Tour. This will be the last chance for them to make an impression on tour until Morocco in a month’s time. The upcoming WGC Matchplay and Masters Tournaments will necessitate some last gasp jockeying for position by some of the fringe players on tour. Players will want to take advantage of the lack of elite names and forge their way forward in the Race to Dubai.
Hero Indian Open | Thursday 9 March - Sunday 12 March | DLF Golf and Country Club, New Delhi
2016: Shiv Chawrasia (-15) | 2015: Anirban Lahiri (-7) *playoff | 2014: Tournament Cancelled
To Win OutrightAnirban Lahiri 10/1 | Rafael Cabrera-Bello 14/1 | Dean Burmester 14/1 | George Coetzee 18/1 | Peter Uihlein 18/1
Jordan Smith – To Win 35/1 & To Place 15/2
Since his excellent 3rd place finish in January’s BMW South African Open, Smith has looked the model of golfing consistency without really threatening the winner’s circle again. His putting has blown hot and cold, but the general consistency of his game suggests to me that he could be a dark horse this week. He finished inside the top 30 at Tshwane, Dubai and that bastardization of golf in Perth: the ISPS Handa World Super 6. Expect him to put up a decent challenge this week.
Dylan Frittelli - To Win 45/1 & To Place 19/2
Young South African Dylan Fritelli is one to watch for recent form. He broke through in 2016 when he finished in a tie for 2nd at the Australian PGA Championship. He has been in excellent form in the last few weeks, finishing in a tie for 12th at the Tshwane Open and a tie for 16th at the Joburg Open a week prior to that. His average driving distance this season is sitting at 311.06, which seems to indicate that Fritteli has beefed up somewhat since last year where he was hitting it at around 291 Yards and he could be a force in the place markets.
Nacho Elvera - To Win 55/1 & To Place 11/1
Elvera has put himself into decent positions to win that elusive maiden European Tour title, agonisingly missing out to Jeunhung Wang at the Trophee Hassan II nearly a year back. He went on to finish in tie for 3rd in Italy, which saw him progress all the way to the DP World Championship final. He has started this year promisingly, actually holding the halfway lead in Qatar before imploding on the front nine on Sunday. He was also tied for 2nd in this tournament in 2016 at the halfway stage, before his errant driving saw him shoot a disastrous 70 in the third round. The more forgiving fairways this week should give him the range to be a bit looser with his driver.
The Man to Beat
Peter Uihlein - To Win 18/1 & To Place 39/10
The big-hitting American has been something of a surprise package on tour this season. There’s always an air of trepidation with Americans plying their trade on the European Tour - they are viewed as misfit rogues who couldn’t hack it at home. But Uihlein has turned into a really solid player, with three top 10’s already this season. He finished in a tie for 4th at least weekend’s Tshwane Open, averaging 309.25 yards with driver in hand. That distance from the tee will serve him well on this monster.