After being left off the inaugural Race to Dubai, the emerging golfing nation of India is restored to the European Tour schedule with this new event. However, in comparison to the world-class line-ups seen for the recent ‘Gulf Swing’, this is very much a second division affair. Nobody in this field is currently ranked in the world’s top 50, and there are only four from the top 100 on show.
Course and key stats
Designed by Arnold Palmer, DLF Golf and Country Club has been seen on the European Tour previously, when hosting the 2008 Johnnie Walker Classic. The leaderboard on that occasion was fairly predictable, with in-form Mark Brown winning by three shots on -18. It was also used for last year’s Indian Masters, with the winning the score six shots higher and probably reflecting the lower standard on the Asian Tour.
Like most Palmer set-ups, the emphasis here appears to be on the ‘second shot’. The greens have plenty of slope, so control will be essential for approach play. As seen already elsewhere, the effect of the new rules on groove faces means that in order to obtain that control, the fairway must first be found. Statistical trends from 2008 point strongly towards greens in regulation as the key discipline, with additional emphasis on driving distance and putting average.
5pts win JEEV MILKHA SINGH @ 10/1 (GENERAL, 11/1 BET365)
With very few in-form Europeans in this line-up, it makes the most sense to focus on Asian Tour players used to these conditions. Besides knowing Indian conditions better than anyone, Jeev is well ahead of the rest of this field in the world rankings.
Indeed, things couldn’t be better in the Singh household right now, after the recent birth of their first child. Supporters of the ‘Nappy Factor’ theory; that says players thrive after such personal milestones; will doubtless read plenty into Singh’s excellent performance in Dubai last week. Only one of this line-up finished ahead of him, and seeing as he knows this course well and wasn’t beaten far in 2008, 10/1 looks a perfectly reasonable price about the favourite.
2pts ew SHIV KAPUR @ 25/1 (BET365, LADBROKES)
Kapur has looked like a man on the up elsewhere on the Race to Dubai, and must now rate a very strong candidate with home advantage. He finished 2009 with consecutive top tens in South Africa, including runner-up in their national Open, and made all three cuts in the Gulf without doing anything special. This is markedly weaker, and having finished fifth at DLF in 2008, Shiv was a straightforward selection for the staking plan.
1.5pts ew PRAYAD MARKSAENG @ 33/1 (PADDY POWER, LADBROKES, CORAL)
Another of the small band of Asian Tour players to have produced good form outside the region. Marksaeng also performed reasonably well in vastly superior company during the Gulf Swing, and very much takes the eye back on a course he knows well. He wasn’t beaten far in ninth place at the Johnnie Walker Classic here two years ago, and also finished runner-up on his sole previous visit to DLF back in 2002.
The early suggestions are that Davies is one of the best amongst those to graduate from last year’s Challenge Tour. Davies has only missed one cut so far at the higher level, and sixth place on his penultimate start in Abu Dhabi rates a fine effort amongst some of the world’s very best. Besides a few names near the head of the betting, this field wouldn’t look out of place on the Challenge Tour, where he was hard to keep out of the frame last season. Critically in comparison to most fellow Europeans, Davies has plenty of experience of Asian golf, and made the top 15 on both previous visits to India.
1pt ew ANIRBAN LAHIRI @ 80/1 (GENERAL)
While Lahiri will be a new name to most European golf fans, he is arguably the best young prospect in a country that is fast taking this sport to their hearts. The 22-year-old had an impressive amateur career before turning professional in 2007, and has won a couple of titles already. Prior to missing the cut last week in Dubai, his first event outside Asia, Lahiri had made the top ten on four of his last eight starts, including third on this course in October.