New Delhi, February 20: A strong Indian contingent comprising numerous European and Asian Tour champions will take on an equally strong international star cast as the 56thedition of the Hero Indian Open tees off next month. The flagship event of Indian golf - which is also the longest-running international event in India - will be held from March 19-22, 2020 and carry a prize purse of US$ 1.75 million.
This will be the 15thsuccessive edition to be sponsored by motorcycle market leader Hero MotoCorp, who took over the title sponsorship in 2005. It also marks the 25th year of Hero MotoCorp's association with golf.
Almost all top Indian golfers - including past champions such as SSP Chawrasia (2016 and 2017), Anirban Lahiri (2015) and three-time winner Jyoti Randhawa(2000, 2006 and 2007) - will be seen in action in this edition of the Hero Indian Open. Proven and established champions such as Shiv Kapur, Rashid Khan, Rahil Gangjee, Shubhankar Sharma and many others will also be in the fray at Gary Player layout at the gorgeous DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurugram.
Giving the established players a run for their money will be the likes of Udayan Mane, who has won the last three events on the domestic tour and risen to 241 in the world. Viraj Madappa, Khalin Joshi, S Chikkarangappa, Ajeetesh Sandhu, Aman Raj, Kshitij Naveed Kaul, Karandeep Kochhar, Veer Ahlawat, Yuvraj Sandhu and others will all be hoping to strike it big at India's biggest golfing event.
The field for HIO 2020 will feature a quartet of fresh, young talent with Justin Suh of the United States, a former world number 1 amateur; Akshay Bhatia, a golfer of Indian origin who represents the US and is a much-decorated amateur. Denmark's Nicolai Hojgaard and Matthew Jordan of England are two other young golfers, who could make the week their own.
Bharatendu Kabi, Head - Corporate Communication, Hero MotoCorp said, "Hero MotoCorp remains committed to the long-term promotion of golf in the country and around the world. We have been the Title Sponsor of the Hero Indian Open for 15 consecutive years now. The Hero Indian Open has always provided a platform to Indian golfers to compete against a strong international field and showcase their talent. With the presence of a strong Indian contingent and participation of talented international players, we are sure the Hero Indian Open 2020 will see top-class competitive golf."
Lt. Gen D Anbu (Retd), President, Indian Golf Union said, "I am very pleased to be attending my 2nd Hero Indian Open in the capacity of President of the IGU, the Promoter of the event. That we have come through trying times to host this, the most spectacular golf tournament in all of India is a matter of immense pride."
"Hero MotoCorp has been a steadfast partner of the IGU and we are deeply grateful for Dr Pawan Munjal's friendship and patronage. The DLF G&CC is a true test of golf and particularly on this course, all gofers need the time tested formula of hitting straight, aiming correctly and putting well, to be the Indian Open Champion of the year. My gratitude to my colleagues in the IGU for their silent but efficient work in putting this together. While I do hope the trophy stays at home, my best wishes to all participants."
The European Tour has been a partner by co-sanctioning the event with Asian Tour and this year will see the great Dane Thomas Bjorn, the winning captain of 2018 European Ryder Cup team in Gurgaon, along with Dutch golfer Joost Luiten, a six-time European Tour winner and Andy Sullivan, a three-time European Tour winner. Leading the European challenge will be the defending champion, Stephen Gallacher, who had his son, Jack, on the bag when he won last year.
Ben Cowen, Deputy Chief Operating Officer - International, European Tour said, "We look forward to returning to the striking surroundings of DLF Golf and Country Club in March as the Hero Indian Open takes its place on the Race to Dubai for the sixth year."
"As ever we thank title sponsors Hero MotoCorp for their continued support, and in particular their Chairman, Dr Pawan Munjal, whose commitment and vision helps to drive a wide range of projects across the European Tour, ranging from this event to the innovative and ever-growing Hero Challenge."
"We also acknowledge the Indian Golf Union's hard work in continuing to grow and develop the game across India, and once again look forward to working alongside our colleagues at the Asian Tour to co-sanction another exciting event."
Aakash Ohri, Sr Executive Director, DLF Home Developers Ltd said, "We are delighted to host the Hero Indian Open for the fourth successive year. The Gary Player course at the DLF Golf & Country Club has the unique distinction of being the venue for both the men's and women's Indian Opens, which have been so well supported by Hero MotoCorp. We continually strive to deliver the best playing conditions year-round and this year is no different. The players can look forward to pristine playing conditions on a challenging course, which they have increasingly appreciated year on year. We are all looking forward to another exciting edition of the Hero Indian Open next month."
Cho Minn Thant, Commissioner and CEO, Asian Tour said, "The Hero Indian Open has always been regarded as one of the Asian Tour's Majors. This historic event has long boasted a stellar field and I would like to extend our fullest appreciation to Hero MotoCorp and the Indian Golf Union for their support in continuously raising its stature over the years.
"It is also, therefore, befitting for the Hero Indian Open to be staged at the very challenging DLF Golf and Country Club. It is a course which demands immense mental strength as anything can happen at any time and no lead is too big. The final stretch at the DLF Golf and Country Club is one of the most demanding in professional golf but I have every confidence of a solid showing by our players this year as we have many dual members who have the experience of competing more often on the European Tour now. We also expect a strong showing from the local players who have the advantage of home ground knowledge."
Indian golfers have established themselves as strong challengers on the Asian Tour and have been regular winners. Despite not adding any silverware in 2019, the Indian golfers finished runner-up and in Top-3 numerous times.
Thailand, as usual, will be sending a strong and young contingent with many Asian Tour winners. With entries still coming in, other names will soon be confirmed.
The DLF Golf and Country Club has become the home of Indian Opens - both for men and women. The course conditions, the layout as also the sheer ambience of DLF, makes it a favourite with the golfers. The challenging layout at the Gary Player's Black Knight course, adds to the charm and brings out the best in the top golfers.
After three Indian winners from 2015 to 2017 - two of them won by Chawrasia, who also has four other runner-up finishes at the event - the past two editions have seen winners from the United Kingdom. Matt Wallace became the first Englishman to win in 2018 and Gallacher became the first Scotsman to put his name on the historic Trophy. With this being the Olympic year, it is expected two Indians will make the grade. The tussle for those two spots is intense and there is a long list of players, who can grab those spots, even though Rashid, Khan, Udayan Mane and Shubhankar Sharma are the current top three.
Source: Media Release