Four top 20 overseas players in the field
Since 2014, the success-rate of an Indian winning a dollar-event at home is a whopping 77 percent. This could well see an improvement should another home-grown talent triumph in the $300,000 Classic Golf and Country Club International golf championship here on Sunday.
Since the last international event at this venue was in 2009, there is no apparent home advantage for Indian contenders. In fact, S. Chikkarangappa, the highest-ranked Indian on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, along with Khalin Joshi and Viraj Maddappa — the last two Indian winners on the Tour at home — will be playing their first Asian Tour event on this course.
Ajeetesh Sandhu, the second-highest placed Indian on the money-list, played here in his rookie year in the 2009 SAIL Open, which also turned out to be the last dollar-event here.
With 156 golfers from 20 countries here, the field includes four overseas players from the top 20 on the Order of Merit. Korea’s Taehee Lee (fourth), Japan’s Masashiro Kawamura (fifth), Finland’s Janne Kaske (14th) and winner of the recent Jakarta Open Miguel Carballo (19th) could spoil the Indians’ party.
With the temperature steady around 37°C, not to ignore the rising humidity, the 82 Indians in the fray are expected to deal with the challenging conditions better. But a dark horse, particularly from the 13-member Thai contingent, cannot be ruled out.
After all, two of three Asian Tour events here saw Thai winners, the exception being Jyoti Randhawa.
At the same time, it must be remembered that the course has grown in the last decade. The course has matured and poses far more challenges than it did in 2009 when Chipchai Nirat won with an awe-inspiring score of 32-under.
These days, the course is playing much longer and getting the ball out of the rough could severely test those who miss the fairway. The greens appear in great shape. The pace on the greens seems just right for the winning score to be anywhere around 16 to 20-under. Overall, the week offers a great opportunity for the lesser-known Indians to strike big. An 11th Indian triumph from 14 Asian Tour events at home, since 2014, looks highly likely.
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