The young Indian players are fired up for the Hero Women’s Indian Open starting on Thursday – but none more than Vani Kapoor.
“There will definitely be an Indian winner this time,” says the 20-year-old from DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurgaon, near Delhi.
Kapoor is full of confidence after six tournament victories on the domestic Women’s Golf Association of India (WGAI) this season, where she leads the order of merit. She also knows Delhi Golf Club extremely well.
She says: “I’ve been here many more times than the others and it’s totally an advantage to my game because I’m quite accurate and accuracy is one aspect which is very much needed here.”
Kapoor finished in a tie for 34th at the same venue last year, but she continued: “The course is playing much shorter than before. The ninth is a par five and the greens are quick and in very good condition. I’m confident in my game so I’ll have a good week.”
In all there are 16 Indian players in the field of 106 competitors, including two amateurs, all vying to become the Ladies European Tour’s first winner from India.
They are joined by several world class players, including Spanish star Carlota Ciganda, Frenchwoman Gwladys Nocera, Sweden’s Sophie Gustafson and Thidapa Suwannapura of Thailand, who won last year.
Neha Tripathi is another Indian player to watch in the field. The 22-year-old from Kolkata is lying third on the WGAI order of merit after one tournament victory and tied for 24th in the Hero Women’s Indian Open last year.
At a press conference, she said: “I was struggling at the beginning of the year but I’m now getting more consistent scores and my game is much better. The course is playing easier than last year and I’m hoping for better scores.”
Ladies European Tour member Sharmila Nicollet from Bangalore is also back in action and looking for a strong finish ahead of her return to LET pre-qualifying next week in Morocco. She said: “It’s been a tough year for me with a lot of health and injury issues but I’m working on a new technique and process and that’s what I’m focusing on this week. I’m made a change of backswing to get more consistent. Along with an improvement on my putting, I think that will take me a long way next year.”
Gauri Monga was the top Indian in a tie for fifth place the 2013 competition and she has received a sponsor’s invitation, while Smriti Mehra is another strong domestic player. ‘Simi’ is lying in second on the domestic order of merit after four wins this season and always in high spirits on her home soil.