Stage set for Battle Royale at Hero Women’s Indian Open

Carlota Ciganda.jpg.crop_display.jpg

The stage is set for a Battle Royale between the big guns of European and Asian women’s golf, as the sixth edition of the $ 300,000 Hero Women’s Indian Open tees off at the DLF Golf and Country Club on Friday morning.

With the legendary Laura Davies and defending champion Caroline Hedwall present in the field alongwith the European Order of Merit leader, Carlota Ciganda and two other multiple winners from 2012, Carly Booth and Stacey Keating, the European challenge may look stronger, but two-time winner, Phatlum Pornanong, gunning for the third Indian Open, the Asians cannot be taken lightly.

Add to that Indian challengers, Smriti Mehra, Sharmila Nicollet and Nalini Singh Siwach and Vani Kapoor, the next three days could provide very interesting fare.

Four of the last five winners, including the defending champion Hedwall headline a strong field for the sixth edition of the Hero Women’s Indian Open, which is now in its third year of joint sanctioning with the Ladies European Tour. The DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurgaon, which has been the home for the tournament, will once again be the venue for the flagship event for the sixth year in succession.

Four of the top-10 on the LET Order of Merit, including the leader Carlota Ciganda are in the field and there are as many six players who have tasted victory on the LET Tour this season. Three of them, Ciganda, Carly Booth and Stacey Keating have in fact won twice each. The field also has three Thai girls, who have won the LAGT this season, Nontaya Srisawang (Thailand Ladies Open), Tainun Yoopan (Technology Cup, Taiwan) and Numa Gulyanamitta (China Trust Open). Ciganda (China Suzhou Taihu Open) and Cassandra Kirkland (Sanya Ladies Open) won events which were co-sanctioned by LET and LAGT.

Other noteworthy Indians include Neha Tripathi and Tanya Wadhwa.

A few others with an Indian connection and in the field for this week include England’s Kiran Matharu, Rhea Nair, an Indian who is based in the Middle East ad Welsh golfer, Sahra Hassan.
Caroline Hedwall, who has had some injury worries early in the season, has come back strongly to win the Uniqa Ladies Golf Open Raiffeisen in September for her fifth LET title. Last year as a Rookie she won four titles. The Swede, who had her mother on the bag, posted a winning three-round 12-under par, 204, two clear of Pornanong Phatlum.

Laura Davies will be returning to the site of her last LET victory two years ago, in 2010 and will look to continue her love affair with the reachable par-five 18th hole. Davies eagled the hole to make a four-way play-off with South African Tandi Cuningham, Thailand’s Nontaya Srisawang and Swede Louise Friberg in 2010. She then birdied the hole to win the tournament. “I love the 18th at DLF,” she said.

Spanish LET rookie Ciganda, who is leading the ISPS Handa Order of Merit after two victories this season in the Netherlands and China, will be playing in India for the first time. She said: “I like to travel and see new countries, new things.”

The tournament features 108 competitors and is tri-sanctioned by the LET, Ladies Asian Golf Tour (LAGT) and Women’s Golf Association of India (WGAI).

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