Scott Hend will play golf anywhere and Kiradech Aphibarnrat is happy to be back where he won his first Asian Tour title. And the duo, alongside Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain, the highest ranked player in the field, and the Indian contingent led by Anirban Lahiri and SSP Chawrasia, the last two winners of this event, but at a different golf course, will be among the leading challengers at Hero Indian Open 2017. The US $ 1.75m begins on at the Gary Player course on Thursday.
Hend, 44, winner of nine Asian Tour events, including two co-sanctioned with Europe, is coming off his best season, during which he became the first Australian to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
Hend, one of the longest hitters on the Asian and European Tours, flew in from Mexico, where he played last week. He says he just loves playing golf and would play anywhere he gets a chance to do that. “I’m always learning every day. I just appreciate being able to play golf and in all the places I can play golf. It’s a privilege, which I don’t take lightly. It’s something that I enjoy doing. If I can’t play somewhere, I’ll play somewhere else. I’m not picky about it. As long as I can play golf for a living, I’ll play anywhere. I’m never picky.”
So, what is that drives him? Answer: Trophies. Period.
After the best season of your career, how do you move forward? Answer: Win. Period.
Kiradech has fond memories of India. He said, “When I committed to the event, I just felt excited. Since 2011 I haven’t come back to India. My first win on Tour was in this country and I always look forward to coming back here to see my friends and golf fans.”
Talking of his first win, he added, “The win at the SAIL Open (2011) meant a lot to me. I had been playing for about two years and I was trying so hard to get my first title. When I broke through, it unlocked everything. I got my second win, got my European Tour card and got into the world’s top-50 and then also nearly top-10 in the Masters. Everything came from that first win. Being in this country means a lot to me. Just feels like I’m back home again. I’ve got a lot of friends, whom I’ve played junior golf with like Anirban Lahiri, Gaganjeet Bhullar and Ajeestesh. It’s like coming home.”