Simi Mehra, for long India's lone representative on the women's professional golf circuit the world over, wants to make a strong bid for the $120,000 DLF Women's Indian Open from March 24 at the DLF Golf Club.
Simi, one of the main brains behind the formation of the Women's Golf Association of India (WGAI), has won virtually every tournament she has played on the domestic circuit. But she now wants the Indian Open.
Three years ago Simi won the first-ever pro event in India, the WGAI Skins event which had three other LPGA players. "My confidence this time will definitely be on a high," she said.
Simi hopes the DLF Women's Indian Open will spark off interest among women golfers in India and also generate more media coverage. "I think that due to the fact that our male counterparts are playing mainly in Asia and Europe, the media gives them a lot more coverage. Playing in the US has been a bit like 'out of sight, out of mind'".
"So, when it comes to doing my bit, I think I have done as much as the men. I still am the first player (male or female)) to make it to the US Tour. I am also the first Indian to have played in four US Women's Opens.
"On the same note, women rarely get the same respect as men do in sports, so personally I don't give it much thought. In general, I feel the growth of women's golf will depend on the availability of good teachers, facilities and golf programmes."
On her preparation, Simi said: "I treat every event the same, so the preparation I put for the Women's Indian Open will be the same as an LPGA event. I am sure Indian players will make a big impact during this event. I know I am capable of winning it. I also feel the chances of an Indian winning are very high. Even last year we had a couple of Indians in the top five, of which one was an amateur. This year we have a stronger field from the quality of players participating, so the results will be very interesting."
Last year Irina Brar finished tied fourth among pros.
Playing on her home turf, the DLF Golf Club, which was also the venue for the Johnnie Walker Classic two weekends ago, Simi feels that there is no advantage for her. "I feel that anyone who hits the maximum amount of greens and putts well is going to win.
"Local knowledge only helps in tricky courses. DLF is a course that can have major championships and the layout is like a top 100 course in the US, so nothing tricky about it," said Simi, adding that she is impressed at the speed at which the women's golf is growing in India.
Simi hinted that if there was any player who could surprise the field, it would be teenager Tanya Wadhwa.
"I feel that she has the game and maturity to win the Women's Indian Open," she said, adding that it's going to be an exciting week for Indian golf and the event offers a great opportunity for Indian players to excel.