Gurgaon, Oct 21 (IANS) India’s top women golfers Vani Kapoor and Sharmila Nicollet will look to give a tough fight to the world’s leading stars at the Hero Women’s Indian Open that starts at the DLF Golf and Country Club here from Thursday. While Gwladys Nocera of France is back to defend her title, a host of other stars, including former champion Thidapa Suwannapura of Thailand, British duo Trish Johnson and Melissa Reid, and American star attraction Cheyenne Woods, will also be in the fray. 

Gwladys, currently occupying the fifth spot on the Ladies European Tour (LET) Order of Merit, has been in good form, and is expected to do an encore after clinching her first Indian Open title at the Delhi Golf Club (DGC) last year. The French professional will, however, face a strong challenge from Melissa Reid (winner of the 2015 Turkish Airlines Open), Suwannapura and Cheyenne, the niece of American great Tiger Woods. The tournament, tri-sanctioned by the LET, the Ladies Asian Golf Tour and the Women’s Golf Association of India (WGAI), will feature 114 players from 31 countries. 

However, the tournament is yet to see an Indian winner and the fans will be hoping for a local talent to win the title and get an exemption to play on the LET. The Indian challenge will be spearheaded by Vani and Sharmila. Vani has been in stellar form this season and leads the Hero Order of Merit. 

“The Indian Open is one of the most important tournaments in my calendar and it is a privilege to play alongside the likes of Cheyenne Woods, Melissa Reid and other great players. This being my home course gives me a slight edge but it is one of the trickiest courses I have ever played on so it is going to be a challenging week,” Vani said in a release. “However, I have prepared well for the tournament and am expecting some good results by the end of the week.” Sharmila is in good form post her win at the Jaypee Greens last month and will be eager to claim her first victory on the LET. Another Indian golfer to watch out for will be Vaishavi Sinha, who finished fifth last year.

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    The IANS was founded by Indian American publisher Gopal Raju as the India Abroad News Service. It was later renamed the Indo-Asian News Service.

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