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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Confident Lahiri set to thrill his army of home supporters

Steve Palmer expects a bold show from the local favourite

Anirban Lahiri plays his way out of a bunker in Dubai
1 of 1

Starts 1.30am Thursday
Live on Sky Sports 4 from 5.30am Thursday

Palmer's top tip
Anirban Lahiri 9-1

India's number one, Anirban Lahiri, saw the new DLF course for the first time this week and is probably licking his lips at the prospect of tackling Gary Player's creation in his national Open.

Lahiri, who won the 2015 Indian Open at the much shorter and much tighter New Delhi GC, is more suited to the dimensions of the DLF.

Lahiri's power counts for more at the new track and the ever-improving 29-year-old looks to have a golden chance of regaining this title on Sunday.

Lahiri has won four times on the Asian Tour in India, as well as 11 times on the India Tour, and this decent man refuses to forget his roots. He has established himself on the US Tour, playing for million-dollar cheques each week, but missing the Indian Open was not considered an option.

Lahiri, who was fifth in the 2015 USPGA, has settled superbly Stateside and finished 11th in the Honda Classic last time out. He is living his American dream and proving himself good enough to mix it with the elite. This week's immense drop in grade, allied to his extreme comfort in Indian conditions, makes Lahiri the man to beat.

Next best
Peter Uihlein 16-1

The biggest potential party-pooper for Lahiri and his army of fans is American raider Peter Uihlein, who has been making dozens of birdies of late and will also appreciate the dimensions of DLF.

Uihlein, a former world number one amateur and hugely successful in the unpaid ranks, looked set to become a superstar. Only one European Tour title has resulted as a professional, a terrible yield for a man blessed with so much talent, but he is still only 27 and has time to fill his mantelpiece with silverware.

Wrist surgery last summer halted Uihlein's career, but the evidence of his last seven tournaments indicates that getting that injury sorted was a smart move. Seventh place in the SA Open was followed by fifth spot in the Dubai Desert Classic, then an 11-under-par weekend in the Tshwane Open meant fourth place there on Sunday. He played his final ten holes in six under par.

Other selections
Shubhankar Sharma 40-1
Todd Sinnott 110-1
Gaganjeet Bhullar 75-1

Hardly anybody in this field has much knowledge of the new DLF layout, but Shubshankar Sharma certainly does. Sharma is affiliated to DLF and it is his home course. That gives the talented youngster an edge and he can hit the ground running.

Sharma is one of India's most promising players and he has found form at the perfect time to make the most of this opportunity, with Asian Tour form figures of 4-27-15-11-9-4-9.

Todd Sinnott possesses the power to tame the DLF and the 25-year-old Aussie has been dismissed far too easily by the layers. Sinnott has bundles of ability and has taken Asia by storm this year, finishing second in Qualifying School before winning his maiden Asian Tour title a fortnight later.

Sinnott won the Myanmar Open in fine style, closing 64, 65 to triumph by three shots, and further success could come across the border in India.

Win-only wagers on Lahiri and Uihlein, as well as each-way investments on Sharma, Sinnott and Gaganjeet Bhullar looks the best staking plan. Bhullar is a 28-year-old Indian who has won nine times on his home circuit, once on the Challenge Tour in India (Gujarat Kensville Challenge), and seven times on the Asian Tour.

Bhullar won on the Asian Tour in October, then again in November, and in his last 11 tournaments he has moved up from 674th to 163rd in the world rankings. The Indian Open has arrived at an excellent time for him.

Others to note
Miguel Tabuena
The Filipino youngster is developing nicely and was third behind Sinnott in Myanmar at the end of January. A 100-1 dark horse

Chapchai Nirat
Thai slugger is worth a second glance at 500-1, given six-shot victory on the Asian Development Tour before Christmas, and 11-shot triumph in India in the 2009 SAIL Open

Prom Meesawat
Well-built Thai has been playing well for four months and was 15th in the Desert Classic. Has a good record in India and is worth considering at 80-1

Kiradech Aphibarnrat
Swing changes with new coach Pete Cowen may need more time to bed in. Started the year brightly but has missed his last two cuts

Nacho Elvira
The Spaniard has four Challenge Tour triumphs under his belt, but has blown some great winning chances on the European Tour. This is another decent opportunity

Rafael Cabrera-Bello
The second-favourite has not won a tournament for more than five years, but is super consistent. Has not missed a European Tour cut since October, 2015

Staking plan
A Lahiri
4pts 9-1 Betfair
P Uihlein
3pts 16-1 general
S Sharma
1pt each-way 40-1 Ladbrokes
T Sinnott
0.5pt each-way 110-1 bet365
G Bhullar
0.5pt each-way 75-1 bet365


Indian Open lowdown

Course DLF Golf and Country Club, New Delhi, India
Prize money €1.65m (€246,588 to the winner)
Length 7,657 yards
Par 72
Field 144
Course records – 72 holes 270 Mark Brown (2008 Johnnie Walker Classic) 18 holes 62 Tetsuji Hiratsuka (2010),
Course winners taking part Chinnaswamy Muniyappa, Andrew Dodt, S.S.P Chawrasia, Jbe Kruger
When to bet By 1.30am tonight
Where to watch Live on Sky Sports from 5.30am tomorrow
Time difference India is five and a half hours ahead of the UK and Ireland
Last week – Tshwane Open 1 D Burmester (16-1), 2 M Korhonen (66-1), J Campillo (45-1), 4 P Uihlein (28-1), 5 A Bjork (66-1), T6 J Blaauw (80-1), P Dunne (50-1), J Morrison (40-1)

Course overview The tournament has moved from New Delhi GC to DLF G&CC for the first time as a European Tour event this year. DLF hosted the Indian Open when it was merely an Asian Tour gathering in 2009, but that was on the old Arnold Palmer design. The Indian Open was exclusively on the Asian Tour until 2015, when the European Tour co-sanctioned for the first time. DLF's Palmer design has hosted four previous European Tour events – the 2008 Johnnie Walker Classic and the Avantha Masters from 2010 through 2012. Gary Player has since created what is essentially a brand new layout – the Signature Course – which opened in 2015. The new set-up, which has made DLF an open, parkland, 7,657-yard giant, has not been tackled in competition by anyone in the field. The par-threes and par-fives are long – the par-three 16th is 273 yards on the card, and the par-five 15th is 631. The layout is 700 feet above sea level, providing more carry, and the greens are full of grain

Story of last year S.S.P Chawrasia was too strong for his rivals on his favourite course, repelling Anirban Lahiri and Jeunghun Wang to win by two shots at New Delhi GC

Weather forecast Sunny, hot and calm for the vast majority of the week, but Friday afternoon could see a thunderstorm

Type of player suited to challenge The new DLF design is a completely different challenge from last year's venue, the short but tight New Delhi GC. The DLF is long and invites big-hitters to showcase their skills. The similarity is the greens, which are grainy and require plenty of touch

Key attribute Power

 

This week's immense drop in grade, allied to his extreme comfort in Indian conditions, makes Lahiri the man to beat
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