Three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington this week returns to India for the first time since 1992 and is in no doubt of his target in the Hero Indian Open.
“I’m looking to be in contention,” declared the Irishman in his press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
To do that, and to have a chance of following in the footsteps of the event’s inaugural champion in 2015, home favourite Anirban Lahiri, Harrington will not only have to overcome a strong field but also a course notorious for its tree-lined trickiness.
The winning score at Delhi Golf Club last year was just seven under par – SSP Chawrasia matched it but lost to his fellow Indian Lahiri in the play-off – and many players have suggested they will opt to jettison their driver, given the premium placed on straight hitting.
Not Harrington, however, who said: “I’ve heard players say they’ve taken out the driver but if I need to make eagle on the last hole then I will be hitting driver. I’ve got to have that club in my bag and that option if I’m chasing with nine holes to go.
“It is difficult off the tees. You get the ball going the wrong way and it might end up into the trees. A lot of intimidating factor off the tees but the goal is conservative off the tees and aggressive attacking the greens.
“You have to accept that you will make a few mistakes which results in double bogeys but hopefully you make enough birdies to counter that.”
The 44 year old last played in India at the Amateur Golf Championship of India in Calcutta, and in the intervening years has forged a brilliant career, amassing 14 European Tour victories, including his Open Championship double in 2007 and 2008 and the US PGA Championship in the latter.
He last tasted victory just over a year ago in the USA, but he is intent on returning to the winner’s circle in New Delhi.
“Every week I go out there, I look to be in contention heading into the last nine holes,” he said. “I know if I did that every week, then I know I will have enough wins by the end of the year that I’ll be happy with. The goal is to have a chance and feel the pressure on Sunday.
“It is a strong field, probably stronger than I imagined. A lot of European players have come here as it is perfect scheduling time.”
Headlining the strong line-up are Lahiri, who claimed his second win in as many weeks 12 months ago, another home favourite in Jeev Milkha Singh and Australian Scott Hend, who won in Thailand last week.