With many of the European Tour’s rank and file preparing to take an enforced break for the next few weeks – the Trophee Hassan II which starts on April 25th is the next regular season event – this is the last chance for many to grab a paycheque before they put their feet up and watch the world’s elite battle it out first at the WGC Match Play and then at The Masters over the next few weeks. After last week’s Sunday capitulation from 50/1 selection David Lipsky, who led briefly on Saturday and went out in the final group on Sunday only to record the only over-par round of anyone in the top-40, I’m hoping for something a little better at the business end of things this week.
Not that many of the Tour’s higher-ranked players have made the trip out to India for this co-sanctioned event though with Jorge Campillo rating as the bookies favourite at around the 14/1 mark. A strong home contingent headed by Anirban Lahiri will line up at Gary Player’s tough track here in Delhi, however Matt Wallace’s win here 12 months ago suggests that the locals won’t necessarily have it all their own way.
DLF G&CC. Designer: Gary Player, 2015; Course Type: Technical; Par: 72; Length: 7,379 yards; Water Hazards: 6 in play; Fairways: Celebration Bermuda; Rough: Celebration Bermuda; Greens: Bermuda Mini Verde.
Course Overview. After a couple of years at the tight, tree-lined sub-7,000 yard Delhi Golf Club, this event moved to Gary Player’s new course in 2017 as the track made its bow on the European Tour, so when studying event form please bear that in mind. In stark contrast to the previous venue, Player has carved a brute out of the Aravalli Hills which stretches to 7,657 yards in length from the Gold tees, however, as per last year, the professionals will be playing from some of the forward tees this week, meaning that the parkland-style track will play as a 7,379 yard, Par 72 with the potential for different tees to be used as the tournament progresses.
Built to the latest golf design standards including a full sub-air system, the layout features severe elevation changes, eye-catching bunkering and large, undulating greens. Fairways are fairly narrow and water features heavily on 6 holes including the par-3 5th which is to an island green as the front 9 (the ‘Lake 9’) meanders around the 2 lakes that the course flanks. The back 9 (the ‘Quarry 9’) is the longest of the two and contains the holes with the most elevation change. Bermudagrass has been used throughout the construction with Mini Verde the strain of choice on the greens.
Tournament Stats. We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s Indian Open that will help to shape a view on players who traditionally play well at this event, going back to 2007. Please note, only the 2017 and 2018 events were played on this particular track here in Delhi: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader Stats | Top 20 Finishes | Combined Form Stats.
Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.
Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for Delhi is here. The tournament should enjoy sunny conditions with hot temperatures (high 90s Fahrenheit) and light to moderate winds expected, strengthening slightly around teatime each day although nothing excessive is forecast.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors.
Stats from the top-3 finishers from the past 2 renewals gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:
- 2018: 1st, Matt Wallace (-11) . 294 yards (18th), 82.1% fairways (9th), 66.7% greens in regulation (31st), 58.3% scrambling (5th), 1.58 putts per GIR (3rd)
- 2018: 2nd, Andew Johnston (-11). 296 yards (16th), 75% fairways (23rd), 77.8% greens in regulation (3rd), 62.5% scrambling (1st), 1.70 putts per GIR (30th)
- 2018: 3rd, Sihwan Kim (-8) 290 yards (24th), 82.1% fairways (9th), 75% greens in regulation (4th), 61.1% scrambling (2nd), 1.70 putts per GIR (33rd)
- 2017: 1st, SSP Chawrasia (-10). 266 yards (67th), 76.8% fairways (12th), 66.7% greens in regulation (31st), 75% scrambling (1st), 1.71 putts per GIR (7th)
- 2017: 2nd, Gavin Green (-3). 278 yards (60th), 71.4% fairways (28th), 66.7% greens in regulation (31st), 29.2% scrambling (45th), 1.58 putts per GIR (1st)
- 2017: 3rd, Scott Jamieson (-2). 300 yards (16th), 78.6% fairways (7th), 75% greens in regulation (3rd), 22.2% scrambling (55th), 1.69 putts per GIR (5th)
- 2017: 3rd, Matteo Manassero (-2). 279 yards (58th), 76.8% fairways (12th), 72.2% greens in regulation (10th), 50% scrambling (7th), 1.85 putts per GIR (43rd)
With just 8 players finishing under par in 2017 and 15 players beating that mark last year, and with double-bogeys a very regular occurrence on even the better players’ scorecards, this event is a true test of patience and concentration with danger lurking on virtually every shot. The greens are huge, particularly on the back-9, and players who are missing the putting surfaces in regulation need to have a razor-sharp short game to save from dropping shots. The greens themselves are excellent quality, however it’s critical to find the right portion of putting surfaces given the undulations, so quality lag putting is also an important strength to possess.
Incoming Form. It’s fair to say that the incoming form of both of our winners was subtle at best. Matt Wallace had recorded his best finish of the season on his previous start in Qatar when finishing 19th a fortnight before winning here; likewise Chawrasia had also recorded his best result of the season on his last start, 35th at the World Super 6 in Perth:
- 2018: 1st, Matt Wallace: 59/4/18/54/34/30/38/32/37/MC/44/19
- 2018: 2nd, Andew Johnston: 19/27/WD/MC/23/30/MC/9/45/27/MC/12
- 2018: 3rd, Sihwan Kim: MC/25/MC/MC/MC/18/29/6/MC/21/62/MC
- 2017: 1st, SSP Chawrasia: MC/MC/34/71/47/1/MC/70/MC/MC/MC/35
- 2017: 2nd, Gavin Green: 47/6/6/MC/69/9/14/63/59/68/32/47
- 2017: 3rd, Scott Jamieson: 10/7/MC/63/28/50/4/36/MC/60/83/22
- 2017: 3rd, Matteo Manassero: 45/MC/MC/MC/49/MC/17/55/39/MC/54/20
Event History. Each of the top-3 finishers last year were making their Indian Open debut. Despite a change of course, SSP Chawrasia continued a fine run of form at the Indian Open when he defended in 2017 – 4 runner-up finishes dating back to 1999 and a further 2 top-10s to go alongside his two trophies speaks for itself. The remainder of the top-3 finishers that year were relatively inexperienced at the Indian Open:
- 2018: 1st, Matt Wallace: Debut
- 2018: 2nd, Andew Johnston: Debut
- 2018: 3rd, Sihwan Kim: Debut
- 2017: 1st, SSP Chawrasia: 2/MC/MC/23/2/9/MC/36/7/40/2/2/1
- 2017: 2nd, Gavin Green: Debut
- 2017: 3rd, Scott Jamieson: 43
- 2017:3rd, Matteo Manassero: Debut
The key aspect to focus on this week in my view is the difficulty of the course and the fact that players need to be 100% focussed and prepared for this tough test from the outset. Some players relish a grind, whereas others don’t have the mental approach to shrug off the inevitable bogeys or worse and they can quickly spiral downwards once the first few mistakes are made. For me, focussing on those players who have proven in the past that they can grind out a score on some of golf’s tougher tests is no bad attribute, however equally those players who are comfortable with the surroundings and the hit conditions may also be at an advantage.
My selections are as follows: