European Tour

Johnston, Wood ready for Delhi debuts

Andrew Johnston (Getty Images)
Andrew Johnston (Getty Images)

Cape Town - English duo Andrew Johnston and Chris Wood are relishing their first tilt at the Indian Open this week as they prepare to tee it up DLF Golf and Country Club in Delhi.

It's a first visit to the city, and the country, for both players, and the prospect of some warm weather golf is appealing after preparations disrupted by the snow back home in the UK.

Although both players are aware of the testing nature of DLF's Gary Player Course, they have arrived ready to break the stranglehold of local players who have dominated this event in recent years.

Since the event - which was first played in 1964 - became part of the European Tour International Schedule in 2015, it has only been won by Indian players.

2015 winner Anirban Lahiri and defending champion SSP Chawrasia - who is aiming to become the first player to win the title in three consecutive years - are both in in the field, alongside the country’s rising star and current Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma, who arrives in Delhi after recording a top ten finish in his maiden appearance at the WGC-Mexico Championship.

READ: Indian star earns Masters invite

Wood is keen to keep his recent run of form going, after finishing in second place at the inaugural Oman Open and following that up with at T13 finish at the Qatar Masters.

"Preparation wasn't great, but I managed to hit six or seven hundred balls over a few days. I actually wanted to spend a lot of time last week in the bunkers. It’s been something I need to work on. But with six inches of snow you can't really hit many bunker shots. I'll have to tighten up the short game this week," said Wood.

"India is somewhere I've always wanted to come to. We’re lucky that we go all around the world and play all of these different golf courses. I arrived late last night and my first experience this morning coming to the course was turning into the on-coming traffic, which we don't do at home. That will be something that I will get used to this week."

Meanwhile Johnston is focused on securing his second European Tour title, after opening the year in promising fashion with a top ten at the Abu Dhabi Championship.

"My target is definitely to try to win again. Obviously, I want to be in the top 60 to play in the final Race to Dubai tournaments, but really, the aim is to get another win on the board. I played well at the start of the year so I've just got to keep that going and keep working hard," said Johnston.

"To see different parts of the world is absolutely amazing and we're lucky that we get to travel and see so much. It's my first time in India. I'm really looking forward to the week and trying to explore Delhi a little bit as well."

They join a field that includes the man who pipped Wood to the title in Oman, Dutchman Joost Luiten, Thomas Bjørn - who becomes the first current Ryder Cup Captain to play in the Indian Open - 2016 Ryder Cup Captain and Major winner Darren Clarke, and former Ryder Cup players Jamie Donaldson, Stephen Gallacher, David Howell and Edoardo Molinari.

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