Asia best to take on European at Avantha Masters

New Delhi: Seasoned pros like Jeev Milkha Singh and SSP Chowrasia will lead the Indian challenge against some established European names such as two-time Major winner John Daly in the tri-sanctioned Avantha Masters that tees off next week.

Since the inaugural event in 2010, Asian Tour members have won the Avantha Masters twice and the region`s elite will be gunning for a hat-trick of titles at the DLF Golf and Country Club from February 16-19.

Australia`s Andrew Dodt savoured the winning feeling for the first time when he lifted his maiden Asian Tour title in 2010 while Chowrasia delighted the crowd with a home victory last year.

The Asian Tour players will be up against a stellar field which includes American Daly, 2004 British Open winner Todd Hamilton of the United States and American Peter Uhlhein, the former world number one amateur.

India`s Sujjan Singh is among the local brigade hoping to bring back the cheers for the home crowd again after he shot into prominence at the Avantha Masters last year.
Singh, who emerged as the next best Asian player after Chowrasia with a tied fifth result, believes his knowledge of the course will be advantageous as he prepares to battle into contention again.

"I`ve got lots of good memories from last year. They`ve been coming back the closer the event gets and also my family and friends have been reminding me about it," said Singh.

"It helps to know the course well. DLF is more suited to my game. I can use my driver more there and I feel I can hit it pretty long. That gives me an advantage," added Singh.

The excited father-to-be will also be extra motivated especially with a newborn on the way. "We`re expecting our first child and my wife has said that I`ve to pay for the baby and our expenses are going to go up. That`s motivation in itself," said Singh.

After securing his Tour card for 2012, Singh said one of his main goals for the new season was to win a title in Asia. "I have certain goals. Winning would be really nice. It`s one of my major goals. I`ve won a few times in India. I played with Kieran Pratt (winner of the Zaykabar Myanmar Open) the first few days and I`ve got some good vibes from that. Next week will be a good place to start winning!"

Other Asian Tour stars expected to vie for top honours include Thailand`s Thongchai Jaidee, a three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner and Sweden`s Rikard Karlberg whose love affair with India dates back to 2010 where he won twice in the sub-continent.

The Avantha Masters holds a significant place on the Asian Tour Schedule as it is the richest tournament in India, thanks to its 1.8 million euros (approximately USD 2.4 million) prize fund. It also enjoys the honour of being the first of the four events scheduled to be played in India this season.