Dodt targets succesful title defence

2/16/2011 10:45:06 AM
Andrew Dodt (Ian Walton)
Andrew Dodt (Ian Walton)

Australia's Andrew Dodt hopes a return to the scene of his maiden European Tour victory can help him rediscover his form at this week's Avantha Masters.

The 25 year old held off the challenge of England's Richard Finch 12 months ago at DLF Golf and Country Club in New Delhi to win what was only his ninth European Tour event.

But his progress has stalled somewhat since then - he has not had a top ten finish in the last year and made only one cut from four on the recent Desert Swing, his only cheque coming via a 37th-place finish at the Volvo Golf Champions in Bahrain.

"I didn't play as well as I would like to, making just one cut out of four events so far this year. But having said that, I just need one good round to kick start things and hopefully it'll happen this week," said Dodt.

"That bunker shot on the 18th last year really changed my life. I actually went back to hit it a couple of times and I didn't hit it as good this time round. But I'll always remember all the good shots that I hit last year and try to repeat that again this week.

"The Avantha Masters and India have a special place in my heart because it got me to where I am today and changed my life dramatically. I have never defended a tournament before and I'm glad that I'm able to do that for the first time this year."

Dodt faces some stiff competition, however, with former Ryder Cup stars David Howell, Søren Hansen and Paul McGinley teeing up.

And in an event co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour, there is also a strong presence from a rapidly-developing golfing continent, including European Tour winners Thongchai Jaidee and Jeev Milkha Singh.

Howell was third in The European Order of Merit in 2006 and reached the top ten of the Official World Golf Ranking, but injuries caused a loss of form and he has not had a top-three finish for three years.

However, there have be signs of a resurgence in recent weeks, and the Englishman hopes to take his improved form – he was fifth in Qatar two weeks ago – to India.

“I’m looking forward to the week,” he said. “I feel that I have really turned a corner recently in terms of the confidence I have in my own game so I am coming in with a fair bit of optimism. It’s good to be back in India and we have a great golf course to play on this week.

“I was disappointed to miss the cut last week because the confidence is returning, especially after the top ten in Qatar.

“I have had a couple of top tens in the last five months which isn’t an amazing return but lots of optimism and reasons to feel that I should be a bit more confident. Qatar really was the result I needed to cement the return of a good bit of self belief so I am really looking forward to this week.”

Hansen has previous form at this venue, having been 14th when the Johnnie Walker Championship was staged here, and is another hoping to return to form after three years without a win.

“I have been here before and I really like the golf course. I am hoping for a good week rather than expecting a good week unfortunately because my form is so-so just now,” said the Dane.

“I played really well in Qatar a couple of weeks ago and then last week missed the cut in Dubai by a few shots so there is an element of the unknown.

“I played great over the weekend in Qatar so I am looking to build on that here at a very good golf course and a good event. I am optimistic about the season ahead but as I said, the week ahead is a bit of a mystery to me – hopefully I can repeat the Qatar performance and really contend this week because I need to get back up there to fully restore the confidence and kick on from there.”