Scot MacIntyre aces 16th as Olesen, Højgaard vie to be first Danes to win Hero Indian Open -
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Scot MacIntyre aces 16th as Olesen, Højgaard vie to be first Danes to win Hero Indian Open

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(from left to right): Robert MacIntyre (Scotland), SSP Chawrasia (India), Nicolai Højgaard (Denmark), Thorbjørn Olesen (Denmark) ahead of the Hero Indian Open in Gurugram.

 Khel Today Bureau 

Gurugram: Robert MacIntyre is an elegant left-hander with a lot of grit and determination but still feels that the DLF Golf and Country Club is going pose a stiff challenge as he sets out to win the US$ 2 million Hero Indian Open trophy that his countryman Stephen Gallacher won at the last staging in 2019.

Saying the course would be a mental test, he added, “I would be amazed if you see double digits this week. It’s a mental test more than anything.” Yet, MacIntyre had a hole-in-one on the 16th, which every player admits is the start of the three toughest finishing holes on any course on the DP World Tour.

Sporting a big smile, MacIntyre said, “Yeah, on 16 I hit a clean 245 and like my caddy said just anywhere on that green. It was a full swipe with a 4-iron. It looked good, it was just right at the pin, landed and (I) couldn’t see it. I went down and thought that could be in the hole, it was a good line. I got like 50 yards from the green and there wasn’t a ball and we could see the pitch mark of the shot and it was one!” An ace it was, albeit two days before the main event and it will be some act to follow but MacIntyre is ready for the challenge.

As usual, the Indian contingent is very big and strong as they always are on home turf. The two-time winner, SSP Chawrasia, who won the 2017 Hero Indian Open at this very layout and had also won another European Tour event back in 2011 at the older course. Now back for another shot at the title, the four-time European Tour winner said the event means a lot. “To be honest it’s a very important tournament for us Indians golfers. You get a good opportunity to play on the European (DP World) Tour so our guys can get more chances if they do well here.”

Adding his weight to the DP World tied up with PGTI, he said, “I think it’s a good thing as more Indians can graduate from the Indian tour to a much higher level. Already the winner of last year’s Order of Merit, Manu Gandas has a full card for this year for Europe.”

Speaking about his mantra for the course, he said, “I like to hit it straight and if I can get on the green with 10 feet or less to putt, I always back myself. Shoot straight and keep the putt numbers low was the way for me in the past and it worked pretty well.”

Thorbjørn Olesen and Nicolai Højgaard, who lead a strong contingent of Danes at the Hero Indian Open, said they were looking forward to the event. Olesen has played the Hero Indian Open previously at this venue, but it was before it was re-designed by Gary Player.

Olesen said, “I haven’t played this course before. Well, when I played here it was a very different course. It was the old course which was a short but tricky golf course. (This time) I have only managed to play 5 or 6 holes here and it looks very different from what I remember from the old course. But I think all the guys have said a lot about the golf course and what you need to do and it’s going to be a different week.”

As for the finishing stretch, he added, “The 16th, 17th and 18th which is like an uphill climb and has the waterfall. I haven’t played it yet,” added Olesen, who in the 2018 Ryder Cup singles, beat Jordan Spieth 5&4.

MacIntyre added, “I’ve heard a lot of stories about how difficult and almost wild it is. I played the back nine today and stood on the 15th I thought ‘this is alright here, we can deal with this’, and then the last three and a half holes blew my mind a little bit. It’s the same for everyone, it’s just different and it’s going to be difficult. It’s a mental test rather than a test of your golf game. This week is the first week of the new season that I’ve got a calm head.”

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