The 2015 Hero Women’s Indian Open week is upon us and lots of expectations are pinned on the 19 Indian participants who are vying to become first ever home winner of the national open. One such golfer is the tall, glamorous girl from Bengaluru, Sharmila Nicollet.

The 24 year old golfer, who in 2012 became the youngest Indian to qualify for the Ladies European Tour at the age of 21, is focused on the job and is eager to give her best shot to win the title. Before the start of the tournament, Sharmila spoke to the Women’s Golf Association of India (WGAI), and shared her views on the upcoming tournament, immediate plans on tour, Cheyenne Woods’ visit and much more.

SN250Take us through your journey of Women’s Indian Open as a player.

The women’s Indian Open has grown in leaps and bounds in the last few years. From being a relatively small event initially to such a high-profile event now is a remarkable journey, and kudos to the WGAI, LET and LAGT for making this happen.

What have you learnt from the past experiences of playing in the tournament so far?

The quality of the field here is as good as any tournament in Europe. I enjoy playing in the WIO, and I believe that the expectations of playing at home and familiarity with the conditions makes me elevate my game. I have had good fun at this event and came close to a good finish last year.

Additionally, managing expectations as well as the media attention is a great learning curve for me. In Europe, I am mostly left to play my game, but here I need to manage media interactions, clinics, pro-ams, dinners and other sponsor requirements while still playing golf – which is a great experience.

How has the WIO evolved and improved over the years?

The quality of the field, the prize money, the stature and the overall presentation of this event has dramatically improved over the years. It is now a must-visit on the LET calendar. The Indian contingent has improved and will continue to make a strong impact on the tournament. Hopefully, we will see an Indian winner this year.

What makes the Hero Women’s Indian Open 2015 special?

It is women golf’s flagship event, something every woman professional in India looks forward to during the year. This provides Indian golfers a chance to play alongside the best golfers from Europe and Asia right here in our own backyard. It also helps build the profile of the women’s game in India and gets more girls into the game. It is truly a special event. Hero and WGAI have done great work to elevate the tournament to this stature.

What can we expect from you at the HWIO 2015?

Consistency. Following the process for each shot – that’s what I am aiming for. If I manage to do this, the result will take care of itself. I am looking forward to a good week where I’m able to put this plan into action in each round. That has been lacking in the last few years and I hope to correct it this time round.

What would a win in the Hero Women’s Indian Open mean to you?

It would be the most cherished win of my career to date. To win in the home open is a dream come true for all golfers, and if it happens, I would be over the moon. However, that needs consistent quality golf, which is all I am focused on right now.

What are your immediate future plans post the HWIO?

Immediate plan is to go to China for the Sanya Ladies Open, and then to Morocco for the LET qualifiers for next season.

Tiger Woods played in an exhibition event in India last year and now Cheyenne Woods will be competing at this year’s HWIO. Do you think such developments help to grow Indian golf?

It is amazing to see such quality, known players coming down to India. Tiger’s visit was madness – I have never seen such a frenzy for golf in India, and now with Cheyenne coming for this tournament, I think it will be great as well. Golf needs these visits to get media space and raise the profile of the game. Kids get excited and take up the sport – which is the only way for the sport to grow.

October being a breast cancer awareness month, what would be your message to women on Breast Cancer Awareness?

Check early, check often. In today’s day and age, the technology is available to prevent and detect early: we must all make use of it.