Tuesday brought with it confirmation of the news that HT had reported earlier this month. Sponsors Hero Honda formally announced that the prize money of the 46th Indian Open had been raised by 25 per cent and now stood at $1.25 million (Rs 6 crore).
The ratification means the tournament is now the “richest full-field event on the Asian Tour”.
Also on view this year will be the organisers’ endeavour to move the tournament around the country.
Joining the list of venues to have hosted the national Open will be the DLF Golf & Country Club.
From its inception in 1964 and till 2000, the event was shared between the Delhi Golf Club and Royal Calcutta Golf Club.
The Classic Golf Resort in Gurgaon had played host in 2000 and 2001.
The other talking point was Jeev Milkha Singh’s participation in the October 8-11 event. After missing out on a berth in the Presidents Cup, the world No. 47 is expected to take part, but World Sport Group (WSG), the promoters, preferred to be evasive.
“It’s still a week before the entries close, so it’s premature to talk about it yet,” said Seamus O’Brien, WSG chairman.
With top names like Jyoti Randhawa and Shiv Kapur deciding to stay away, the spotlight got firmly focussed on young gun Gaganjeet Bhullar. Fresh from his second spot finish in last week’s Macau Open, the Kapurthala lad was anything but modest.
“Despite the (British) Open (he became the youngest Indian to play in the Major) and Indonesia President Invitational (his maiden title on the Asian Tour), an Indian Open win remains,” chirped Bhullar, currently No. 6 on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit.
Continuing in the same vein, he said: “Playing in Turnberry (venue of the Open) was a huge learning experience and with it came the feeling that I’d win on the Asian Tour.
The ensuing week Indonesia happened.”
On his prospects at one of his “favourite” venues, Bhullar smiled away the query saying: “Let’s see, it’s difficult to say how the course will play.”