The ‘home of Indian golf’, as the Delhi Golf Club is known among the golfing community, is all set for the second edition of The DGC Open presented by Mastercard with the defending champion Nitithorn Thippong back in the fray for a repeat performance.
The field, which is a blend of youth and promise playing alongside the experienced, has 138 players from around 35 countries and includes almost 50 Indians, many of whom have won on the Asian Tour as well as on home soil.
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The prize purse goes up from USD 500,000 to USD 750,000 this year, a 50 per cent enhancement.
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Shiv Kapur who is a product of the Delhi Golf Club, a relationship he proudly wears on his sleeve, said, “The DGC is home in more ways than one for me. My parents used to leave me here and I used to spend a lot of time playing here and having fun with friends. There’s a comfort factor in playing here over the years and while I’m now a ‘senior’ on the circuit, there is so much to learn from playing alongside the younger players as we have to constantly find ways to keep up with them. I congratulate Mastercard on associating with this unique, club-owned event on the Asian Tour and in fact taking it to another level.”
He added there are any number of Indians who can pull off a win any week and this could well be one such week.
Defending champion Nitithorn, recalling his last year’s win, said, “I’m very excited to be back at Delhi Golf Club to defend my title. Last year the key was just to hit the ball in the fairway because the course is quite narrow. So for me, it’s like a two iron into the fairway, and then you get like a wedge or short iron to the green. So just hit it in the fairway.
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“I can remember the last hole. I can remember almost every shot, but the highlight was the second shot on the first play-off hole, I hit a three wood onto the green. That was the best shot of my life”, he added.
The talented Thai Sadom Kaewkanjana said the reason why Thailand is doing well is that there is a system to train and promote young talent. After finishing fifth on Asian Tour Order of Merit last year, he was the runner-up at International Series Oman this year. On his own game he said, “I’ve never played this course before as this is my first time in India. But I’ve heard a lot about the Delhi Golf Club from the other Thai boys many of who have played here often. I’ve had a good year and am looking forward to a good performance here.
“Last year I played with a lot of the top players and learnt a lot from them and that has reflected in my golf especially this year as I have been able to bring many of those learnings into my game now and hope to get better.”
Last year Nitithorn beat India’s Ajeetesh Sandhu on the first hole of a sudden-death play-off to lift his maiden Asian Tour trophy. It fetched Nitithorn a maiden title and a cheque for USD 90,000. He went on to claim the International Series Singapore in August and become one of only three players to win twice during the season and finished the year fourth on the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
Among the Indians, who could lift the lovely Lal Bangla trophy on Sunday is Chikkarangappa S, who was tied sixth in Thailand last week. Chikka said, “Every Indian player wants to do well at the DGC, it has so much history. I’ve had a decent start to the year including a top-10 at Black Mountain last week so my game is in a good space. I’ve been spending time with my putter to try and keep the shoulders stable as most of our important putts are made from inside eight and 10 feet.
“The wind seems less this year as compared to 2022 but that could change and as of now the greens look and feel much softer than they were last year. I’m quite excited about this week”, he added.
Other Indians who are worth looking out for include Veer Ahlawat, Yuvraj Sandhu, Aman Raj, winner on the domestic Tour last week, Honey Baisoya, rookie Aryan Roopa Anand and established stars like Kapur, Gaganjeet Bhullar, SSP Chawrasia, Rashid Khan and many others.
This week’s field is one of the strongest-ever assembled for an Asian Tour event in India.