A strong Indian contingent comprising former champions will take on an equally strong international star cast at the Indian Open which tees off at the DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurgaon on March 19.

The flagship event of Indian golf – which is also the longest-running international event in India – will see almost all top Indian golfers, including past champions such as SSP Chawrasia (2016 and 2017), Anirban Lahiri (2015) and three-time winner Jyoti Randhawa (2000, 2006 and 2007), in action at the Gary Player layout.

Established champions such as Shiv Kapur, Rashid Khan, Rahil Gangjee, Shubhankar Sharma and many others will also be in fray as a total of 144 players will vie for top honours at the USD 1.75 million tournament.

PGTI regulars such as Udayan Mane, who has won the last three events on the domestic tour, Viraj Madappa, Khalin Joshi, S Chikkarangappa, Ajeetesh Sandhu, Aman Raj, Kshitij Naveed Kaul, Karandeep Kochhar and Veer Ahlawat will all be hoping to strike it big at India’s biggest golfing event.

Defending champion Stephen Gallacher of Scotland had won his first professional title in Asia and his third on the European Tour when he triumphed in Delhi last year.

The former Ryder Cup player had staged a remarkable comeback by firing three birdies in his closing four holes to win the Hero Indian Open by one-shot over Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura and the Scot will be back to defend his title.

The stellar international field will also include past Indian Open champions such as Matt Wallace (2018), Siddikur Rahman (2013), David Gleeson (2011), Liang Wen-chong (2008) and Mardan Mamat (2004).

Dane Thomas Bjorn, the winning captain of 2018 European Ryder Cup team, Dutch golfer Joost Luiten, a six-time European Tour winner and Andy Sullivan, a three-time European Tour winner, will also be vying for honours at the 56th edition of the tournament, which is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and Asian Tour.

A quartet of fresh talent such as Justin Suh of the United States, a former world number 1 amateur; Akshay Bhatia, a golfer of Indian origin who represents the US and is a much-decorated amateur, Denmark’s Nicolai Hojgaard and Matthew Jordan of England – all will look to make the week their own.

Amandeep keeps two-shot lead; Oviya shoots 68 at WPG Tour

Amandeep Drall birdied the closing hole to keep her two-shot lead with a one-over 71 in the second round of the fourth leg of Women’s Pro Golf Tour in Bengaluru on Thursday.

Amandeep had four birdies against five bogeys in her card. She is now level par following her first round 69.

At 140 after 36 holes, she is two shots ahead of Vani Kapoor, who shot a second straight 71 to get to two-over 142.

Amandeep began with a birdie but gave away that shot on the second before picking a birdie again on third.

Two pars later she had back-to-back bogeys and another birdie on eighth. The next holes were more sedate with bogeys on 10th and 16th and a birdie on 18th.

Vani was steady with two birdies on the third and 12th, but had three bogeys on fifth, 10th and 17th. A good result will go a long way in restoring Vani’s confidence.

Chennai golfer Oviya Reddi came up with two separate bursts, one on either side of the turn, for a round of 68, which was also the best this week.

Oviya had a bogey on fourth, but had three birdies and a bogey in between in a four-hole stretch between sixth and ninth.

After turning in one-under, she bogeyed the 11th, but had three birdies in a row from 14th and another bogey on 17th.

At five-over 145, she is tied third with amateur Asmitha Sathish (73-72). Asmitha was pulled back by three bogeys in a row from 12th apart from birdies on sixth an 18th.

Neha Tripathi (74-73) is fifth, while Khushi Khanijau (77-71) is sixth. Saaniya Sharma (79-70) is seventh and Anousha Tripathi (75-75) is eighth. Amateur Sneha Sharan (76-75) and Gursimar Badwal (75-76) are tied 10th.

Bogey free start for Aditi Ashok in Australia

Aditi Ashok turned in a solid bogey-free three-under 69 in the first round to emerge as the best-placed Indian at the Geoff King Motors Australian Ladies Classic in Bonville on Thursday. Lying at Tied-10th, Aditi was by far the best of the six Indian golfers.

Among other Indians, Diksha Dagar carded one-over 73 to lie T-57th, while Tvesa Malik (74) was T-73, Astha Madan (76) was T-108, Ridhima Dilawari (77) was T-126 and Gaurika Bishnoi (78) was T-131st.

While Aditi seemed in good form, the other golfers will need good second rounds to stay on for the weekend.

Aditi had a string of nine pars on the front nine and then she birdied the 10th, 14th and the 18th to finish at three-under 69. All three birdies came on Par-5s and the only one she missed was on the front nine on fourth. Lauren Stephenson from South Carolina carded a six-under 66 to lead after the first round.

Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh, Finland’’s Noora Komulainen, Australian Breanna Gill and Korean trio Min A Woon, Ayean Cho and Hye Ji Lee are a stroke off the lead after posting 67s in perfect scoring conditions at Bonville Golf Resort on Thursday.

Stephenson teed off from the ninth hole and began her round with a fast start, carding birdies on four of her first six holes. The second-year LPGA player added three more birdies against one bogey.

Stephenson spent last season as a rookie on the LPGA Tour. In 20 starts, the University of Alabama product made 11 cuts and produced one top-10, which was a tie for eighth in her first tournament, the ISPS Handa Vic Open in Australia. She ended the season ranked 85th on the Race to CME Globe.

The defending champion Marianne Skarpnord opened with a level par round of 72 to sit in a share of 38th place.