Indian Open: Lahiri backed to win his national title again

Anirban Lahiri
Anirban Lahiri - backed to win his national title again

The DP World Tour jumps from Singapore to India for the second event on the Asian Swing and our man has the lowdown ahead of Thursday's start here...

  • Experienced and patient pros favoured

  • Quirky course perfect for in-play trading

  • Read my Houston Open preview here


  • Tournament History

    The Hero Indian Open was first staged back in 1964 and won by Australian legend, Peter Thompson. The tournament was the brainchild of Thompson and he went on to win it twice more, in 1966 and 1976. It became an Asian Tour event in 1970 and it was co-sanctioned with the DP World Tour for the first time in 2015.

    After two years at the intricate and challenging Delhi Golf Course, the tournament moved to the Gary Player Course at the DLF Golf and Country Club in 2017 when Shiv Chawrasia made a successful title defence, despite the change in venues.

    Matt Wallace and Stephen Gallacher won the next two editions before the pandemic caused a three-year hiatus.

    It was a German one-two last year when the tournament returned to the schedule with Marcel Siem beating Yannik Paul by a stroke.


    Venue

    The Gary Player Course, DLF Golf and Country Club, Gurgaon, India


    Course Details

    Par 72, 7,393 yards
    Stroke index in 2023 - 73.71

    The Gary Player Course only opened in 2015 and we were very much in the dark when the tournament was first staged here.

    With an advertised length of in excess of 7,600 yards it looked far too long for many pros, including the defending champ, Shiv Chawrasia, who is notoriously short off the tee. However, they messed about with the yardage by using different tees, ignoring the Championship ones, and by round four it played to just a smidgen over 7000 yards.

    Chawrasia cruised to a successful defence by seven strokes, leaving many of us confused and angry. How could someone averaging only 280 off the tee could win on a course measuring more than 7,600 yards? The answer was simple really. When the course doesn't measure anywhere close to that!

    INDIAN OPEN DLF 3.jpg

    I's a traditional par 72 layout with the standard 12 par fours, four par threes and four par fives.

    The course is entirely Bermuda. The fairways are narrow with some undulation and the greens are large and undulating.

    This is a gimmicky track and danger seems to lurk almost everywhere.

    In the first two editions here, only three players played all 72 holes without making at least one double-bogey and the winner in 2019, Stephen Gallacher, made a quadruple-bogey eight at the seventh in round four.

    Water is in play on seven holes in total - one, five, six, eight, nine, 16 and 18.

    It's a really tough test and only seven players bettered par in tricky conditions in 2017.


    Weather Forecast


    TV Coverage

    Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting at 7:30 on Thursday (UK time)


    Last Six Winners with Pre-event Prices

    • 2023 - Marcel Siem -14 50.049/1
    • 2020 - 2022 - No event
    • 2019 - Stephen Gallacher -9 200.0199/1
    • 2018 - Matt Wallace -11 (Playoff) 85.084/1
    • 2017 - Shiv Chawrasia -10 90.089/1
    • 2016 - Shiv Chawrasia -15 40.039/1
    • 2015 - Anirban Lahiri -7 (Playoff) 8.07/1

    What Will it Take to Win the Indian Open?

    Having expected length to be the key before we ever saw the course, that really wasn't the case in any of the first three editions at the venue but four of the top-seven ranked inside the top-10 for Driving Distance last year and the winner, Siem, ranked first for Strokes Gained: Off the Tee.

    Marcel Siem wins in India.jpg

    There's only been Strokes Gained figures produced for the last two editions and nothing stands out.

    In contrast to Siem, the 2019 winner, Stephen Gallacher, ranked only 49th for SG: Off the Tee but he ranked second for Strokes Gained: Approach and fourth for SG:Tee to Green, whereas Siem ranked 19th and ninth for those two metrics.

    Here are the traditional stats for the top-five and ties in all four editions of the event staged at the Gary Player Course.


    2017

    • SSP Chawrasia -10 - DD: 67, DA: 12, GIR: 31, Scr: 1, PA: 7
    • Gavin Green -3 - DD: 60, DA: 28, GIR: 31, Scr: 45, PA: 1
    • Scott Jamieson -2 - DD: 16, DA: 7, GIR: 3, Scr: 55, PA: 5
    • Matteo Manassero -2 - DD: 58, DA: 12, GIR: 10, Scr: 7, PA: 43
    • Rafa Cabrera-Bello -1 - DD: 21, DA: 41, GIR: 4, Scr: 57, PA: 23
    • Anirban Lahiri -1 - DD: 11, DA: 49, GIR: 20, Scr: 54, PA: 8
    • Carlos Pigem -1 - DD: 26, DA: 35, GIR: 1, Scr: 44, PA: 13

    2018

    • Matt Wallace -11 - DD: 16, DA: 8, GIR: 20, Scr: 5, PA: 5: 1
    • Andrew Johnson -11 - DD: 15, DA: 24, GIR: 2, Scr: 1, PA: 4
    • Sihwan Kim -8 - DD: 63, DA: 8, GIR: 5, Scr: 2, PA: 33
    • Pablo Larrazabal -7 - DD: 9, DA: 45, GIR: 17, Scr: 28, PA: 32
    • Matthias Schwab -7 - DD: 11, DA: 8, GIR: 1, Scr: 25, PA: 13

    2019

    • Stephen Gallacher -9 - DD: 33 DA: 49, GIR: 17, Scr: 43, PA: 1
    • Masahiro Kawamura -8 - DD: 11, DA: 59, GIR: 28, Scr: 5, PA: 20
    • Jorge Campillo -7 - DD: 14, DA: 10, GIR: 17, Scr: 5, PA: 24
    • Christiaan Bezuidenhout -6 - DD: 21, DA: 49, GIR: 17, Scr: 17, PA: 42
    • Julian Suri -6 - DD: 2, DA: 49, GIR: 25, Scr: 34, PA: 30

    2023

    • Marcel Siem -14 - DD: 5 DA: 13, GIR: 2, Scr: 44, PA: 12
    • Paul Yannik -13 - DD: 9, DA: 41, GIR: 1, Scr: 1, PA: 25
    • Joost Luiten -12 - DD: 21, DA: 6, GIR: 4, Scr: 19, PA: 11
    • Jorge Campillo -8 - DD: 7, DA: 9, GIR: 14, Scr: 19, PA: 1
    • Kazuki Higa -8 - DD: 34, DA: 13, GIR: 9, Scr: 2, PA: 43

    • DD - Driving Distance
    • DA - Driving Accuracy
    • GIR - Greens In Regulation
    • SC - Scrambling
    • PA - Putting Average

    A hot putter was the secret Gallacher's victory in 2019 but Greens In Regulation and Scrambling have been the key stats in the other three renewals here.

    Is There an Angle In?

    Eddie Pepperell, who was tied for the lead at halfway in 2017, described the course as designed by Satan! Going on to say. "That's the most stressful three-under-par I think I've ever shot. Not because I played badly. I played really, really well. Literally every shot, something can go wrong. It's going to be a long week mentally more than anything. It's quite a walk and mentally it will be very draining to stay up there, if you're up there the whole week in contention. You've really got to take some pressure off yourself."

    And the 2018 winner, Matt Wallace, had this to say. "Every hole is a double-bogey waiting to happen."

    Patience and a really good temperament are going to be the keys to success this week. Anyone getting remotely frustrated with the course could soon find themselves out of contention and an ability to ride the bad breaks and remain on an even keel will be crucial.

    Matt Wallace bunker 1280.jpg

    The first two course winners are multiple event winners, and the last two course winners were both veterans.


    Is There an Identikit Winner?

    Europeans have won the last three editions but the home contingent had a fine record before the venue switch and an Indian has won 12 of the last 29 renewals.

    The first three course winners were matched at a triple-figure price before the off and Siem was a 50.049/1 chance last year so it's been a great event for outsiders since the switch in venues.


    Winner's Position and Price Pre-Round Four

    • 2023 - Marcel Siem solo second - trailing by one 3.412/5
    • 2019 - Stephen Gallacher solo 4th - trailing by three 20.019/1
    • 2018 - Matt Wallace -tied for the lead 6.05/1
    • 2017 - Shiv Chawrasia - leading by two 1.84/5

    In-Play Tactics

    This quirky track is perfect for trading in-running.

    Chawrasia coasted to victory in 2017 with his inexperienced closest challengers wilting on Sunday so it was a very straightforward finish but we witnessed all sorts of drama in the next editions...

    Matt Wallace, who was an 80.079/1 chance before the off, drifted to 270.0269/1 in-running, but he looked as though he'd taken control of the tournament going into the back-nine on Sunday and he was matched at a low of 1.182/11 but everything changed in the space of a couple of minutes.

    Wallace hit a poor tee-shot into the rough on the par three 16th and an even worse recovery shot that flew the green and found a nasty spot in the greenside bunker, just as Andrew Johnston birdied the equally tough 17th when trailing by two.

    Wallace was a long odds-on shot to make a double-bogey on 16 so with the tough 17th still to play, it looked like Johnston would play the par five 18th with at least a one-shot lead and the market reacted.

    Johnston was matched at a low of 1.011/100 for more than £5k!

    That was a nasty case of fat fingers by someone, but he was also matched for plenty at around the 1.21/5 mark - which didn't look ridiculously short given the situation.

    Wallace then got up-and-down brilliantly at 16 for bogey and Johnston, presumably playing the percentages when he knew he was tied, turned down the chance to go for the green with his second shot on 18 after a brilliant drive. Wallace then parred both 17 and 18 and the event went into extra time.

    The first two home weren't the only two to trade at odds-on though - Emiliano Grillo, who eventually finished sixth, traded at 1.695/7 on Friday morning! That was absurd given how tough the venue is and given danger lurks all over this beast of a course and we witnessed all sorts of drama in 2019 too.

    The eventual winner, Gallacher, who had been tied for the lead with Julian Suri after round one, looked like he'd blown his chance a few times. A second round 74 left him with plenty of work to do (seven off the lead at halfway) and he drifted all the way to over 200.0199/1 when he looked like his chance had gone completely after the quadruple-bogey eight on the seventh hole in round four having had to play five off the tee!

    Stephen Gallacher at DLF Golf Club.jpg

    Suri birdied eight and nine shortly after Gallacher's gaff and the American was matched at just 1.162/13 as he looked to be assuming command. However, long-odds-on players got their fingers burnt when Suri made a quad of his own on the ultra-tough 14th and that wasn't the end of the market drama.

    Jose Campillo looked like he was going to benefit from sorry Suri's slip-up but he failed to birdie the par five 18th after a great drive and moments after he'd posted an eight-under-par tournament total, and been matched at just 1.21/5. His score was changed from a six-under-par 66 to a five-under-par 67!

    Japan's Masahiro Kawamura, who hit a low of 2.166/5, salvaged a par at the last having driven out of bounds to finish one in front of Campillo but Gallacher rallied superbly to win by a stroke with birdies at three of the last four holes.

    Last year's renewal wasn't quite as dramatic but the runner-up, Yannik Paul, led the event by five at halfway and he was matched at a low of 1.618/13 on Sunday.

    It's not at all uncommon to see at least two players trade at odds-on on the DP World Tour and we could very easily see numerous players trade low and get beat this time around too.

    Market Leaders

    Rasmus Hojgaard heads the market, but he's never played here before and he's gone off the boil of late.

    After a missed cut at the Cognizant Classic and a 49th in the Puerto Rico Open on the PGA Tour, he finished only 29th in Singapore last week but he did at least sign off the event with a five-under-par 67.

    Jordan Smith finished 17th here on his only appearance back in 2017 so he has a bit of course experience in the bag and his Greens In Regulation numbers are very strong.

    He's ranked fourth and second for GIR in his last two events (second in the Jonsson Workwear Open and 21st in the Singapore Classic) and he's highly likely to contend. But he's not the most straightforward in-contention.

    Jordan Smith at Glendower.jpg

    He was tied for the lead after round one in Singapore last week, but he followed up his eight-under-par 64 with a one-over 73 and that's fairly typical of the Englishman.

    I'm in no rush to back him in such an open-looking event at 20/121.00.

    With 2024 form figures reading 11-MC-23-9-7-20-23-11, Scotland's Ewen Ferguson has been a model of consistency this year and his GIR numbers are just as steady.

    Like Smith, Ferguson is expected to contend but he's playing here for the first time and, at 27, he's considerably younger than the previous course winners.

    Bernd Wiesberger is creeping in to form, hence why he was a selection last week in Singapore at 75.074/1, where he finished tied for 16th.

    In his four starts on the DP World Tour this year, he's ranked no worse than 11th for GIR and he finished 23rd here in his only previous visit in 2019 but I'm not prepared to back him at 50 points less than I took last week in a field of similar strength.

    Selection

    I'll have one or two outsiders in the Find Me a 100 Winner column later today or tomorrow and I've had a tiny bet on India's Anirban Lahiri, who finished fifth here in 2017, but that's it before the off.

    Lahiri finished only 34th here in 2018 and he missed the cut 12 months later, so his course form is patchy. But he has a decent record in his homeland and won this event back in 2015 at Delhi Golf Club.

    He now plays on the LIV circuit where he's been faring OK. He's finished runner-up a couple of times and he was sixth in Jeddah a couple of weeks ago before finishing only 34th in Hong Kong last time out.

    At 36, he's now very experienced so that's a big plus here and he really is top-class on his day. It's only two years since he finished runner-up to Cam Smith at the Players Championship, where he did very little wrong over the weekend.

    Back Anirban Lahiri @ 28.027/1

    Bet here


    Read my Houston Open preview here


    *You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter


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