EUROPEAN TOUR specialist (@Vince_RFC) shares his expert opinion on this week's Hero Indian Open.
Hero Indican Open| 8th-11th March 2018 | Sky Sports
I won't beat around the bush here, this is an awful tournament. That's nothing against the organisers or those behind the scenes, it's just the course is terrible. Made worse by the fact a really good unique course was ditched to make way for the monstrosity that is DLF G&CC.
Last year was just awful and there was hefty criticism coming from all quarters. Don't be swayed by the pretty pictures that will be going round. Rounds were taking 6 hours to complete last year thanks to a poor layout, long walks between holes and lost balls a plenty. This isn’t a tournament to watch.
Hero of 2 weeks ago Eddie Pepperell called it “designed by Satan” last week in declaring he wouldn't be returning this week. It's actually a Gary player design but I don't think that's what Eddie was getting at.
Prior to last year we all thought this was going to be a course for the big hitters as it was listed as one of the longest courses going. It didn't turn out that way though, it turns out that each hole has 6 tee positions so it's anyones guess which will be used day to day and what the yardage will be.
One of the shortest hitters around in SSP Chawrasia won at a canter in the end. He won by a full 7 shots and only 7 players finished the week under par. It's still a bit of a mystery but plodding your way round without finding danger seems the most obvious route to winning. I have a feeling that the biggest advantage could be having played last year. Those that at are returning will know what's needed and more important what not to do in order to have a good week.
Shubhankar Sharma is the new kid on the block in Indian Golf having exploded onto the scene in the last few months. After winning the Joburg Open and the Maybank he announced himself on the world scene at the WCG last week, leading after 3 rounds and ultimately finishing T9th.
He's the worthy favourite thus week and of he shows his recent form he'll win but I can't be backing him. At some point his form is going will dip and on the back of a gruelling trip from Mexico to contend with it wouldn't be a surprise if it came this week. Instead there's two other Indians i like the look of who have dominated the Indian Open in the last 3 years under it’s current guise as a co-sanctioned event and they form my first two picks.
Anirban Lahiri (14/1 Sky Bet)
Anirban Lahiri has been the standout Indian golfer for what seems like forever. Although he’s only 30 so that’s not entirely true although it seem like it. It looks as though he won’t be for long with 21 year old Sharma making massive strides recently but It’s the more experienced Lahiri I like for this one though at 14/1. He was 5th here last year which followed on from 2nd and 1st at Delhi GC the two years previously.
Lahiri is now a regular on the PGA Tour and has been doing well there by all accounts. So far this season he’s missed just one cut in eight appearances including two top 10s on the Asian leg of the season back in October. To make the weekend on a regular basis stateside you need to be a pretty decent player and there’s only a handful of players in this field who have the ability to do that. Emiliano Grillo would be the one that would worry me the most of those but playing on home soil and with course form gives Anirban the edge of the those at the head of the market by a distance for me.
SSP Chawrasia (25/1 Marathonbet)
The easiest pick of the whole year next, SSP Chawrasia. Since this tournament became co-sanctioned SSP has a record of 1-1-2, the first two being at Delhi GC and last year at this venue. Before that he won 2 of the 5 renewals of the Avantha Masters (08 and 11) both at different courses. Away from the European Tour lets have a look at his record on home soil in Asian Tour events, again over the last 5 years for the sake of having a cut off point. It reads 43-2-4-1-32-5, not bad at all.
You can add in plenty of wins, top 5’s etc pre 2013 on Indian soil too. Good results outside of India are few and far between and as a result his incoming form is pretty dreadful. I put him up on twitter yesterday at 33/1 on the presumption that that wouldn’t last and it hasn’t, he’s widely 22/1 while I write this. Hopefully a few got the 33/1 but there’s still a little bit of 25/1 available which is still decent.
I like those twos chances a lot so a couple of big prices without too much reasoning behind them to round things off. As I already said I think having played here last year will be of benefit and a couple of guys stand out at big prices who did fairly well last year.
Danthai Boonma (150/1 Coral)
The Thai Danthai Boonma was T13th a year ago and makes some appeal at 150/1. He has a little bit of form having opened his year with a top 5 on the Asian Tour and was a respectable T34 at The Maybank a month ago
Lasse Jensen (200/1 Coral)
The other is Lasse Jensen at 200/1. The Dane was T17th last year and again just stands out to me. He hasn’t got much in the way of form, T27-T37 in the first half of the Desert Swing followed by missing the cut at both on the second half. That follows a similar pattern to 2017 though so you never know. Again, nothing more than hunches on those two but I really like the Lahiri and Chawrasia.
Anirban Lahiri 14/1 each way – Skybet
SSP Chawrasia 25/1 each way – Marathon Bet
Danthai Boonma 150/1 each way – Coral
Lasse Jensen 200/1 each way – Coral
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