by Aman Misra, in Pune.
In the history of the Indian Open, there have been eight multiple winners. Peter Thomson and Jyoti Randhawa have won thrice each, while a group of six including Ali Sher and Shiv Shankar Prasad Chawrasia have two titles each.
Few have a record at the Open like Chawrasia which also includes four runner-up finishes before he broke through in 2016. Coming into this year’s edition, the unflappable soft-spoken Kolkatan has the chance to seal a rare treble.
Dating back 53 previous editions of the tournament, no one has ever won the title three times in a row. The last time something of this proportion occurred in professional golf was probably when Padraig Harrington came to Turnberry after winning the previous two Open Championships in 2007 and 2008.
Chawrasia has won the last two Indian Open titles by a combined nine shots. Your correspondent caught up with the European Tour regular as he prepared to play a practice round at the Gary Player course, this week’s venue for the championship between 8-11 of March.
On the offseason – “Didn’t do much after the Tour Championship in Kolkata (where he finished 10th). Stayed home, worked out and rested. Did not play too much either. There was a niggle in my left knee which is fine now.”
On his season so far – “I have been playing well, it is just that the two round cut at various events have been lower than usual. Need a good start and I’ll be fine.” (He is yet to shoot a score worse than 74 this season)
On work with Pritam Saikia and Sundeep Verma this week – “We’ve worked on the driver for the most part. Specifically looking to see if the driver shaft can be replaced with another option. Otherwise the current configuration is also good to go.”
Changes to the Gary Player Course at the DLF G&CG – “They have pushed some tee boxes back, especially the holes on the back nine including the 10,14,15 and 17. (Last year, only seven players finished under par)
Winning score this week – “In my estimate will not be lower than seven or eight under. Similar conditions to last year as we speak.”
On turning 40 this May – “Age is just a number! It all depends on how you are thinking – having said that I will play less than my usual quota of 30 tournaments this year.”
Any pressure given the three-peat? “Not at all. Won’t stray too much from last year’s game plan – Puneet(his nephew) is back on the bag and we’ll go shot-by-shot, staying in the moment. We’re in the now.”
Best finish this season by SSP – 7th at the UBS Hong Kong Open in November where he led wire-to-wire until the final 18.
Multiple winners of the Indian Open –
Peter Thomson – 3
Jyoti Randhawa – 3
Brian Jones – 2
Graham Marsh – 2
Kenji Hosoishi – 2
Ali Sher – 2
Thaworn Wiratchant – 2
SSP Chawrasia – 2
Other notable Indians likely to be in the field this week –
Anirban Lahiri (*)
Jeev Milkha Singh
Jyoti Randhawa (*)
Arjun Atwal (*)
(*) Denotes previous winner of Indian Open