Gurugram: A resurgent Caroline Hedwall is looking for a new milestone at the Gary Player course at the DLF Golf and Country Club, even as India’s very own Vani Kapoor and last year’s runner-up Scot Michele Thomson are seeking a good finish to ensure playing privileges and the LET Card for 2019.
The defending champion Camille Chevalier, in the meantime wants to keep that Trophy for yet another year and rookie Julia Engstrom, who was finally united with her ‘lost’ golf clubs this morning, would love nothing more than carrying on the tradition of rookies winning the Hero Women’s Indian Open. The last three Indian Opens have been won by rookies – Emily Pedersen (2015), Aditi Ashok (2016) and Chevalier (2017). Engtsrom, who does have a Top-5 this season has been in solid form with three Top-20s in last four starts.
After getting used to the weather conditions in the NCR region and soaking in the markets and sampling Indian food, the 120 players, 17 of whom are Indians, are all set for the richest-ever Hero Women’s Indian Open, which will have on offer of $500,000.
The winner takes $75,000 but will need to play 72 holes over four days, as against 54 holes over three years in the first 11 years of the tournament’s existence.
After finally getting her hands on her ‘own’ clubs, Engstrom spent a lot of the day practicing with them after they landed in India this morning. “It is so good and comforting to get my clubs back,” said Engstrom, whose solid first season includes a T-5 finish at Lalla Meryem Cup.
Prior to turning professional, Engstrom was the highest ranked amateur born in the 21st century for two years. She is a player with great promise and talent. She gained her LET card for the 2018 season after finishing T9 at the Lalla Aicha Tour School Qualifying Final Stage in Morocco. She had a stellar amateur career during which she became the youngest winner of Ladies British Open Amateur Championship in 2016. She got the opportunity to play the US Women’s Open, Women’s British Open and The Evian Championship, where she posted the lowest amateur score in 2016.
While Engstrom is trying make a headway on the Tour, Hedwall is seeking to complete a double of sorts – by winning on both layouts at the DLF. In 2011 Hedwall won at the Arnold Palmer course, while the event is now held at the Gary Player course.
Hedwall had her mother, Yvonne on the bag in 2011, and now she has her non-identical twin, Jacqueline, as the caddie. Jacqueline is training to become a police officer and will be caddying for the first time in three years, but was on the bag before that for her sister.
“She hasn’t caddied for three years, so I’ll do the yardages,” said Hedwall, after showing her sister the course around. Hedwall played at this new course in 2016, but since then it has changed a lot.
“I was here two years ago, but I was really amazed by what has been done to the place. It’s looking incredible, the changes. It’s a really good looking course and a great challenge, so I’m excited to play,” she said.
Hedwall won four times in 2011 and then again in 2012, but after that it was a long drought, which ended last month in France at the Lacoste Ladies Open de France and she was second in the Estrella Damm Mediterranean Ladies Open a fortnight later. She wants to finish the year on a high.
Amandeep, Gaurika among early starters
Amandeep Drall will be the earliest top Indian to tee off on Thursday morning at 6.55 am with Felicity Johnson and Karolin Lampert, while Gaurika Bishnoi will play the first round with Korea’s A Hyeon Kim and Thai player, Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras and they tee off at 7.05 am from the first.
India’s best finisher at Tied-6th in 2017, Vani Kapoor has been paired with Eleanor Givens of England and Noora Komulainen of Finland at 7.35 am from the 10th tee, while Talented amateur, Diksha Dagar plays with Lucie Andre and Indian pro, Siddhi Kapoor at 7.45 am from the tenth tee.
The afternoon wave will see the leader on WGAI’s Hero Order of Merit, Tvesa Malik play alongside former Order of Merit winner, Beth Allen and 2011 champion Hedwall at 11.10 am from the first tee.
Last year’s low amateur Pranav Urs, who has recently snared a $100,000 golf scholarship in US, is paired with Becky Morgan and Vikki Laing and they tee off from the 10th at 12.10 pm. Before her, local amateur, Sifat Sagoo will go out with Sarah Schober and Stacy Lee Bergman from 10th at 11.40 am.
Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.
Updated Date: Oct 17, 2018 19:52:08 IST