Crans Montana (Switzerland), July 22 (IANS)Following his tied 30th finish at the 144th British Open, Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri will tee off along with eight of his compatriots in the 2.7 million euros European Masters at the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club starting here on Thursday.
Current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Lahiri, who finished tied-13th in 2014, will be among the hot favourites expected to do well this year at the only event on European soil to be jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour since 2009.
The world No.61, who won February’s Malaysian and India Open titles, will be joined by his countrymen Jeev Milkha Singh, Shiv Kapur, Rashid Khan, Gaganjeet Bhullar, S.S.P Chawrasia, Digvijay Singh, Jyoti Randhawa and Rahil Gangjee.
Bengaluru-based Lahiri will tee off alongside England’s world No.88 Ross Fisher and France’s world No.39 Victor Dubuisson at 12.55 local time.
“Switzerland has been one of those course which I ran hot and cold. I had very good rounds and not so great rounds. We are going in a different time of the year (unlike last year) so it’s going to be interesting because it won’t be as cold and it’ll be a great opportunity for more Asian players to do well,” Lahiri said earlier in an Asian Tour release.
World No.378 Shiv also believes the warm and sunny conditions will favour the 30-member Asian contingent.
“The weather has made it a little more friendly towards the Asians and you’ll see a stronger Asian challenge this year,” said Shiv of the summer heat.
“The key is to know how far to hit the ball and the distances they go. Judging and trusting the distance that the ball goes is a huge factor to doing well this week,” added the 33-year-old.
American David Lipsky will begin the title defence in the company of England’s world No.35 Lee Westwood and his in-form compatriot Danny Willett.
The marquee trio will head off from the tenth hole at 07.55 local time on Thursday morning, with Lipsky bidding to become the first player since Seve Ballesteros to retain the title.
Willett is currently in formidable form, securing his fifth top ten (tied eighth) of a superb season in the British Open. The 27-year-old Sheffield native, who is currently third in European Order of Merit, also boasts an impressive record in this tournament, with six made cuts and a brace of top five finishes in six appearances.
Sergio Garcia, the highest-ranked player in the field at 10, and a resident of Crans Montana, gets his bid for a second victory in the tournament.
The Spaniard, who finished tied sixth in the British Open, will be joined by Thai ace Thongchai Jaidee and in-form Austrian Bernd Wiesberger.