Gwladys Nocera, Sophie Gustafson, Holly Clyburn and Charley Hull are among the leading names hoping to make their mark in the Hero Women’s Indian Open, starting Thursday.
The three-day event is being held at the historic Delhi Golf Club for the first time, having moved from the traditional DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurgaon.
A tree-lined, narrow course puts a premium on accuracy over distance and the leading golfers in the field will have to stay alert to gain an advantage over the local talent.
Sweden’s Sophie Gustafson, a four-time winner of the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit with 26 tournament wins to her credit, is one of the longer hitters on tour with an average drive of 256 yards, however the tight nature of the course means that power will not necessarily be advantageous.
After playing in the Pro-Am, Gustafson said: “I’m 99 per cent sure I’m going to take my driver out of my bag because I won’t use it. I actually have two different three woods on me so I’m going to keep them both in the bag. I wouldn’t have done it normally but there isn’t one hole that I’d even consider taking driver. I have two Callaway three woods and one is about 13 years old.”
On the other hand, Frenchwoman Gwladys Nocera, ranked fourth on the LET after two wins this season in Slovakia and China, plans to use her driver.
“My accuracy with the driver is good so it’s not a problem of the fairway being narrow,” said Nocera, who won her 12th LET title at the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open a month ago. It’s more like if there is something in the way, like a tree in the middle of the fairway. There are some dog legs and sometimes it’s not worth taking driver, distance wise. It’s more about distance control.”
|A peacock, mongoose and tomb next to the 17th tee at Delhi Golf Club|
Leading LET rookies Charley Hull and Holly Clyburn from England are visiting India for the first time and looking to make progress in the race to win the 2013 LET Rolex Rookie of the Year Award.
With just two events to play on the 2013 Ladies European Tour schedule, in India and Dubai, Hull is currently sixth on the ISPS Handa Order of Merit with euro 115,601.18 in earnings, less than euro 3,000 ahead of eighth ranked Clyburn.
Both young players have had phenomenal seasons. Clyburn, 22, won the Deloitte Ladies Open in the Netherlands in May and finished in the top 40 in both of the European majors.
Hull, the LET’s youngest member, aged 17, started the year with five straight second places and made a sensational Solheim Cup debut as part of the first European team to win on US soil.
Hull feels that a solo victory is within her grasp and it could come in India: “My game is good enough this year. I’ve had a great season and just need that first win to top the season off. Hopefully I’ll win in the next two weeks.”
Clyburn admitted: “Everyone’s talking about rookie of the year and me and Charley. It’s been nice that we’ve set a stamp and great for young English golf and the LET. All I want to do is win that. My focus this week is to perform in the top ten, or top five but I take one round as it comes.”
Although both LET rookies find the Delhi golf course tricky, they were full of praise for the facilities and hospitality. Hull said: “India is a lot nicer than I thought it would be! I haven’t seen much, but it’s pretty clean,” while Clyburn added: “So far, so good!”
The Hero Women’s Indian Open, which started in 2007, joined the Ladies European Tour schedule in 2010 and is tri-sanctioned by the LET, Ladies Asian Golf Tour and Women’s Golf Association of India. The tournament carries a purse of US $300,000, the highest prize fund in the history of women’s professional golf in India and will be played from Thursday, November 28 to Saturday, November 30. The field of 108 competitors, including 45 LET members, will tee up in the 54-hole stroke play event, with a cut to the leading 60 professionals and those tied after two rounds.