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Mr J Narain, Advisor-Sports, Hero MotoCorp Ltd, Mr Brijinder Singh, President, Indian Golf Union, Mr SK Sharma, Chairman – HIO Committee, Mr Tusch Daroga, VP-Operations, DLF Golf with the Hero Indian Open trophy.

Khel Today Bureau

New Delhi: Hero Indian Open – the country’s National Open and flagship golf tournament is set to return later this month after a three-year break due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Hero Indian Open  to be held between February 23-26, 2023 at the DLF Golf & Country Club  will see a high-powered field of star players, including defending champion Stephen Gallacher, 2018 Ryder Cup-winning captain Thomas Bjørn, his fellow Ryder Cup teammate Thorbjørn Olesen, Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre and the rising star from Denmark, Nicolai Højgaard.

This year, the DP World Tour tournament will touch the landmark figure of US$ 2 million as prize purse for the first time and host a field of 120 players from over 20 countries.

28 Indians will participate in this prestigious Championship. 25 Indian golfers qualifies from PGTI,  two golfers Shubhankar and Manu Gandas qualify from DP WORLD TOUR and SSP Chourasia is from Sponsors.

Dr Pawan Munjal, Chairman & CEO, Hero MotoCorp, said, “We are delighted to see the Hero Indian Open return to action. Hero MotoCorp has been associated with this marquee tournament for close to two decades and we have seen the tournament grow in stature during this duration. The tournament has made a significant contribution to growing the sport and providing a platform for Indian golfers to showcase their talent. We are also happy to see our association with the DP World Tour grow across the globe in addition to bringing innovation and new opportunities to the game. We wish all the players the very best and look forward to a week of exciting, world-class golfing action.”

The tournament gains immense significance with its 2750 ‘Race to Dubai’ ranking points and 2,000 ‘Ryder Cup’ points. With the top 10 players from the DP World Tour, who are not otherwise exempt, also getting a card to the PGA Tour, there is an added incentive for the players.

The winner will receive a handsome US$ 340,000, while the runner-up picking up US$ 220,000 and the third-place finisher pocketing US$ 126,000. The fourth-place fetches US$ 100,000.

Gallacher, the first Scotsman to win the Hero Indian Open, will be joined by fellow Scot, Robert MacIntyre, a left-hander with immense talent and a Top-100 player, who was in Top-50 in 2021. MacIntyre won the 2022 Italian Open, which had World No.1 Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick in the field.

Part of the 2014 Ryder Cup winning team, Gallacher had his son on the bag when he won the Hero Indian Open in 2019. Gallacher, two years away from being eligible to join the Legends Tour in Europe for players above 50, will be joined by another legend, Thomas Bjørn, the winning Ryder Cup Captain in 2018 and 15-time DP World Tour winner.

Europe’s rising star, Nicolai Højgaard, will make his first visit to India, as will six-time DP World Tour winner Thorbjørn Olesen, a member of the European Ryder Cup team under Bjorn in 2018. Olesen ended a four-year title drought in 2022 with a win at the Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett.

While Gallacher, a two-time winner of the marquee Hero Dubai Desert Classic, won India’s National Open on his debut at the event, MacIntyre, Olesen and Højgaard will be making their maiden trip to India.

Nicolai Højgaard has two DP World Tour titles, one each in 2021 and 2022. He will turn 22 a little over two weeks after the Hero Indian Open and will be gunning for an early birthday present.

Mr Brijinder Singh, President, Indian Golf Union, said, “I take pride in announcing the long awaited Hero Indian Open 2023. It is our flagship event and we look forward to the excitement and bonhomie it brings. Let’s make this event a memorable one.”

Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the DP World Tour, said: “We are very excited to return to DLF Golf & Country Club for the first time in four years when the Hero Indian Open takes place later this month.”

“Our thanks in particular go to Hero MotoCorp Chairman and CEO, Dr Pawan Munjal, for both the commitment to this event and the overall DP World Tour. Dr Munjal is a great friend of the DP World Tour and we are very grateful for his support. This event has been a long-term beneficiary of Dr Munjal’s sponsorship and it is great to see it return to our schedule, along with the help of the promoter, the Indian Golf Union, who do so much for golf in India”, he added.

Mr Tusch Daroga, AVP-Operations, DLF Golf and Country Club said “We are delighted to host the Hero Indian Open for the fifth time. The Gary Player course at the DLF Golf & Country Club has the unique distinction of being the venue for both the men’s and women’s Indian Opens, which have been so well supported by Hero MotoCorp. We continually strive to deliver the best playing conditions year round and this year is no different. The players can look forward to pristine playing conditions on a challenging course, which they have increasingly appreciated year on year.”

Nicolai Højgaard also played on the winning Continental Europe team beating Great Britain & Ireland in the Hero Cup last month. Interestingly, Nicolai replaced his then-injured twin brother Rasmus in the team after he was ruled out due to injury.

Bjorn won the Mauritius Open on the Legends Tour in December.

Shubhankar Sharma, who got off to a flying start at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, the first strokeplay event of 2023 on the DP World Tour, will spearhead the strong home challenge, which will include Hero Brand Ambassador Shiv Kapur and two-time Hero Indian Open winner, SSP Chawrasia. Sharma at one stage was in shared lead at Abu Dhabi, a Rolex Series event, in which he was runner-up in 2022.

Sharma has already qualified for the 151st Open to be held at Royal Liverpool in the same week in which he will turn 27.

Manu Gandas, who earned a card into the DP World Tour because of the latest alliance between the PGTI, DP World Tour and PGA Tour, will also be seen in action. Gandas had an outstanding season in 2022, when he won six domestic Tour events and topped the Order of Merit to earn a card to the DP World Tour.

The DLF Golf and Country Club returns as the venue for the fourth year in a row.

After a hugely successful take-off in January with four events in the Middle East, starting with the Hero Cup and followed by Rolex Series events, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, the DP World Tour also had a stop in Ras Al Khaimah.

The Tour has stayed on in Asia with new stops – the Singapore Classic (February 9 to 12) and Thailand Classic (February 16 to 19) followed by Hero Indian Open. It will then travel to Africa for two weeks, before returning to Asia for its first trip to Japan for the ISPS Handa Championship (April 20 to 23) and make a return to Korea for the first time since 2013 (April 27 to 30).

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