Himmat Rai ready for the big test at Hero Indian Open

October 4th, 2011 - 7:06 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 4 (IANS) India’s latest golfing sensation Himmat Rai is relishing the prospect of teeing up at the Hero Indian Open beginning Oct 13.

The 24-year-old Delhi golfer, who in the past month notched up two big wins - one on the Asian Tour at the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic and then at the DLF Masters last week - is keen on adding more silverware to his trophy cabinet.

Rai is one of the key members of India’s ‘Youth Brigade’ which is ready to make its mark at the $1.25 million event. Just as Rai grabbed his maiden Asian Tour title this season, Anirban Lahiri, too, won earlier this season. Gaganjeet Bhullar has tasted success in each of the last three years.

Next week, the threesome could well be among the foremost contenders for the Indian Open title.

“The Delhi Golf Club is always a big challenge. I have some happy memories in that the last time I played here, I had a top-10 at the Panasonic Open,” said Rai, who now leads on the Indian domestic Tour with his last week’s win.

Rai, who finished tied 21st at his first appearance as a pro at the Indian Open in 2008, missed the cut in 2009 but finished 42nd last year.

It has been a year of growth for Rai. “I played a lot of events in 2008, but in 2009 I had a great year and kept my card. I had a couple of top-10s and came close in Johor where I finished third,” he said.

Faced with a choice of playing the Asian Tour Qualifying School or going to the United States for mini-tours to gain experience, Rai chose the School. “It turned out to be a good decision. I was lying way down after three days, but on the final day I shot a 65 and finished tied fifth (in Q-School), which gave a my a card and good category.”

Asked about the fellow golfers, Rai said: “Jeev (Milkha Singh) has always been an inspiration for me. Jeev, Jyoti (Randhawa) and Arjun (Atwal) have been doing so well in major international tours. Now we have a young lot that should do well in next 3-4 years. I would add Rashid Khan’s name to Anirban and Gaganjeet and our generation can do well. This is a very competitive lot.”

India’s other star challengers at the Open will include the seasoned three-time Indian Open winner and Asian Tour No.1 in 2002, Jyoti Randhawa, two-time European Tour winner, S.S.P. Chowrasia and Asian Tour Rookie of the Year in 2005, Shiv Kapur.

While World No.53 Edoardo Molinari, a member of the Ryder Cup winning team and also a World Cup winner will headline the international starcast. Also expected to contend and be in the thick of action are Thaworn Wiratchant, who has 12 Asian Tour titles against his name, defending champion, Rikard Karlberg of Sweden, and Jbe Kruger among others.

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