The Indian Open Golf is an annual property of the Indian Golf Union. Launched in 1964, this event became part of the Asian Golf Circuit in 1970. In 1998, the Indian Open Golf affiliated to the rival Omega Circuit. Since 2015, this tournament has been recognized by the European Tour.
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Background and history
Peter Thompson won the first edition of the Indian Open in 1964 by beating Ralph Moffitt by four strokes. In fact, the credit for starting this tournament goes to Thompson who visited India frequently. Thus, after playing a few games in the country, Thompson realized the huge scope for this sport in India. Encouraged by these findings, he helped set up the Indian Golf Union, and this is how golf took root and spread in the newly independent India.
But, Thompson didn't stop at his 1964 win. Instead, he continued to play golf here in India, winning the Indian Open in 1966, and again in 1967. Impressively, this record went unchallenged for 50 years, when Jyoti Singh Randhawa broke it in 2007.
Prem Gopal or Billoo Sethi became the first Indian winner of Indian Open in 1965. He beat Guy Wolstenholme by seven strokes to lift the Cup. By the way, Sethi remains the only amateur player to win this prestigious title till date.
The Indian Open became a major international fixture by joining the Asia Golf Circuit in 1970. The former was an associate member of the circuit from 1967 to 1968. This elevation helped the Indian Open gain more prominence, especially after Payne Stewart won the tournament in 1981.
Milestones of Indian Open
Throughout its history, the Indian Open has sported numerous titles. Between 1964 and 1985, The Indian Open was just the Indian Open, because there were no sponsors involved. However, things turned for the better when Charminar and Wills showed interest in the tournament. Thus, the name of the tournament became Charminar Challenge Indian Open (1986-88), and Wills Indian Open from 1988 to 1991. Charminar and Wills are cigarette brands.
The Indian Open retained its earlier name in 1992 until 1996 when it became the Classic Indian Open. The new name continued until 1998.
Between 1999 to 2010, there were three sponsors of this premier tournament — Wills, Royal Challenge and Hero Honda. From 2010 to date, the Indian Open is sponsored by Hero Honda, now called Hero Motors.
All the matches of Indian Open, so far, are played in the Delhi Golf Club, DLF Golf Club, and the Royal Calcutta Club. The last-mentioned club is not only the oldest golf club in India, but one of the oldest ones outside Britain.
The Indian Open has been a good hunting ground for Indian golfers. In fact, Indians have won the Cup for 13 times so far. The names of these players are:
- Shiv Chaurasia (2016 and 17)
- Anirban Lahiri (2015)
- Chinnaswamy Munniyappa (2009)
- Jyoti Randhawa (2000, 2005 and 2006)
- Vijay Kumar (2002)
- Arjun Atwal (1999)
- Feroz Ali (1998)
- Ali Sher (1991 and 1993)
- P.G Sethi (1965)
Now let's look at the Indian runners-up. They are:
- Anirban Lahiri (2016 and 2013)
- Chiragh Kumar (2011)
- Shiv Chaurasia (1999, 2006, 2013)
- Vijay Kumar (2006)
- Gaurav Ghei (2005)
- Jyoti Randhawa and Basad Ali (1996)
- Freoz Ali (1993)
- P.G Sethi (1966)
Five players have won the Indian Cup two or more times. These are:
- Peter Thomson (1964,1966 and 1976)
- Kenji Hosoishi (1967 and 1968)
- Brian Jones (172 and 1977)
- Thaworn Wiratchant (2005 and 2012)
- Graham Marsh (1971 and 1973)
The other winners (from latest to earliest) are:
- Stephen Gallacher
- Matt Wallace
- Siddikur Rahman
- David Gleeson
- Rikard Karlberg
- Liang Wenchong
- Mardan Mamat
- Mike Cunning
- Ed Fryatt
- Hidezumi Shirakata
- Jim Rutledge
- Emlyn Aubrey
- Stewart Ginn
- Andrew Debusk
- Remi Bouchard
- Lu Choen-soon
- Lu Hsi-chuyen
- Tony Grimes
- Rafael Alarcon
- Junichi Takahishi
- Hsu Sheng-san
- Payne Stewart
- Kurt Cox
- Gaylord Burrows
- Bill Brask
- Ted Ball
- Kuo Chie- Hsiung
- Chen Chien-Chung
- Ben Arder
India and Australia have won the Indian Open maximum times (9 times), followed by the United States (7 times). Some other countries that have won the Indian Open more than one time are:
- Japan (4 times)
- Taiwan (5 times)
- Canada (twice)
To sum up, the Indian Open has been a successful golf tournament so far. In fact, many prominent golfers have participated in this championship. Excitingly, these include Roger Davis, Bob Tway, Aaron Meeks, and so on. Thus far, the Indian Open has succeeded largely because of the support provided by Hero Motors, Godfrey Philips, United Breweries, etc. Finally, it's likely the Indian Open will flourish in the future as well.