| Jyoti Randhawa in New Delhi on Wednesday. (PTI)
New Delhi: The longer, and hence tougher, Delhi Golf Club course here has been spruced up for a battle between two of India’s greatest golfers when the $500,000 Indian Open tees off on Thursday.
While defending champion Jyoti Randhawa, a two-time winner, will make an all-out effort to clinch it for a third time and thus match Australia’s Peter Thompson, Jeev Milkha Singh, competing in the event for the first time in five years, is waiting in the wings to show off his class.
The 18th hole of the DGC has often witnessed many a drama, none more so than in the last edition of the Open. Randhawa, S.S.P. Chowrasia and Vijay Kumar ended tied after Sunday’s fourth round, resulting in a play-off that was deferred to the next day because of bad light.
Randhawa, who finished with a four-round total of 18-under 270, had a chance to wrap it up but missed a four-foot birdie putt and was forced to return on Monday.
The DGC has been stretched beyond the 7000-yard mark and Randhawa feels things will be a little difficult this time. “The tees have been pushed back, which makes the course longer and tougher. I think the key will be not to make too many errors.”
This time around, Randhawa has an added incentive in wanting the title. “I want to win it and dedicate it to my new-born son Zoravar,” he said smiling.
“When you finish your day it is a great feeling to go home and meet somebody new who is yours,” said the six-time winner on the Asian Tour. “When my son grows up, I can tell him how I won it.”
Randhawa knows it is easier said than done, however, as Jeev is perfectly capable of spoiling his party. They are great adversaries on course but have a tremendous admiration for each other.
Jeev said on Tuesday that he considered Randhawa the favourite . When asked to comment, Randhawa said: “I think I will put my money on him, actually. It is great to see him back playing here for the first time since his great season last year.”
But, then, Randhawa and Jeev will not be the only ones keeping things alive over the next four days at the DGC. Also teeing up will be India’s Gaurav Ghei, China’s Lu Wen-the, Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant, the 2005 winner, and Singapore’s Mardan Mamat who won in 2004. Australian Peter Senior is also competing as a sponsor’s invite. As many as 26 winners on the Asian Tour are in the fray.
Last time, Chowrasia was a disappointed man. He had a 10-foot birdie putt on the 72nd to win but his attempt agonisingly slid just past the hole. He is now determined to make amends.
“I still think about last year’s event. I had a putt to win in regulation but I couldn’t put it in the hole,” Chowrasia says.