Hero Indian Open Each-Way Tips: Sharma can shine

Golfer Shubhankar Sharma
Shubhankar Sharma can claim his national championship this week.

The DP World Tour stays in Asia this week. Thorbjorn Olesen heads the betting for the Hero Indian Open but Matt Cooper looks elsewhere in his three selections with the Betfair Sportsbook paying seven places...

  • Shubhankar Sharma can delight home crowds
  • Youngster Jayden Schaper looks a great course fit
  • Alex Knappe likes Gary Player designs

Ouch.

Last week's preview of the Thailand Classic identified the home of the Open de France as a good pointer for the Amata Springs test, included the words: "I was tempted to complete the team with Thorbjorn Olesen - who has finished second and third at Le Golf National - and is improving with every outing (literally: MC-45-30-20-16-4)", concluded: "He's a bit short though" and then the Dane won.

Better news though: the column added "We'll keep the Antoine Rozner chips on the table" and the Frenchman landed the place spoils meaning that we've had a return every week in 2023.

And now, ahead of a one week break, the circuit completes the Asian Swing with a return to the Gary Player Course at DLF G&CC in Delhi for the Hero Indian Open.

It's a rum layout, a sort of crazy golf course with a championship course yardage, that tests both the patience and the euphemistic vocabulary of the field.

Back when it was first used for this event Eddie Pepperell sighed: "That's the most stressful 3-under-par I've ever shot. Literally every shot something can go wrong."

A year later the winner Matt Wallace said: "Every hole is a double bogey waiting to happen."

This is what they were saying with the handbrake on. Imagine what they were muttering to one another.

It would take a brave soul to stroll around the player's lounge cheerily repeating the course designer's favourite mantra ("The more you practice, the luckier you get").

Main Bet: Shubhankar Sharma 1pt each-way @ 28/1

Has there been anything the three main tour winners on this course have had in common?

Not a lot but I'd argue form on Player designs is something to go on.

The first winner SSP Chawrasia thrashed the field by seven shots with local knowledge and the calm of a yoga master but even he had a top 25 at Fancourt (which is among his best efforts on the DP World Tour outside India).

Second winner Matt Wallace had a top five at Gary Player CC and last champion Stephen Gallacher a very fine course record. Scott Jamieson, Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Pablo Larrazabal have placed off the back of very fine Player layout log books.

That leads me to first pick this week, the home favourite Shubhankar Sharma.

Now 26-years-old he was a 14/1 shot five years ago off the back of the two wins which catapulted him into elite events - indeed he'd led the WGC Mexico Championship a week before with 18 holes to play.

The jump came a little too quickly but either side of New Year he's shown nice form.

Most strikingly he was second in the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Gary Player CC but also seventh in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and 12th in the Saudi International.

He's played the course three times, never missed the cut, carded a 64 in 2018 on his way to seventh (when sharing the 54-hole lead) and was 27th in 2019 (when top 20 almost all week).

Currently associated with Chandigarh GC he has also been attached to DLF in the past.

Back Shubhankar Sharma 1pt each-way @ 29.0

29.0

DLF COUNTRY CLUB INDIA 1 2023.jpg

Next Best: Jayden Schaper 1pt each-way @ 40/1

Jayden Schaper's had a fine reputation in South Africa ever since he became the first winner of his nation's boys' grand slam.

He's yet to translate that promise into wins in the pro ranks but he looks like he's starting to get there with a decent late 2022 on home soil after a second excursion to the Challenge Tour reaped little in the way of success.

In fact, since that return from Europe he's landed 10 top 20 finishes in 14 starts with four of them on the DP World Tour.

Two of those - fourth at Gary Player CC in a Sunshine Tour event, ninth at Blair Atholl in the South African Open - came on Player designs, as did his 26th in the Dunhill Championship.

He's also recorded sensational (albeit traditional) stats in that run - a collection of first and second rankings for Driving Accuracy and Greens in Regulation.

In fact, they are so good I rather doubt their accuracy, being a little too reminiscent of the giddy copy on his website ("Unrelenting - impeccably consistent ... Driven - focused, disciplined and dedicated").

Nonetheless, his Player design form goes beyond recent times: second at Leopard Creek in 2020, more top 30s at Fancourt, Blair Atholl and GP CC.

He's not alone in having decent form in recent times on Player layouts, but he's a nicer price than many others.

Back Jayden Schaper 1pt each-way @ 41.0

41.0

Final Bet: Alexander Knappe 1pt each-way @ 50/1

Germany's Alexander Knappe wore a big smile after completing a final round 67 for third place last week, a result that equals his best on the DP World Tour.

It was a good build on his 34th a week earlier in Singapore and he can ride the wave with his long game in great shape (he ranked first for Total Driving both weeks, third and sixth for Ball-Striking, top 20 both weeks for SG Off the Tee).

He's got an exceptional record at Fancourt (three top four finishes including a win) and was also 22nd at Leopard Creek last December (spending the first half of the week in the top 10 and again thriving with the long game).

He's also a past winner in Asia (in China on the Challenge Tour) and also finished 17th on the course in 2017 with yet more solid work tee to green.

Back Alex Knappe 1pt each-way @ 51.0

51.0

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