Cheyenne Woods feels she has a ‘great chance’ of winning the Hero Women’s Indian Open on her first visit to India this week.
The 25-year-old American has spoken to her uncle Tiger about his positive experiences of playing golf in New Delhi and now she plans to create fond memories of her own when she tees up in the championship, starting on Friday on the newly opened ‘Black Knight’ Course, designed by Gary Player, at the DLF Golf and Country Club.
The course has been totally redesigned since the Ladies European Tour players last visited the venue in 2012, when Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum won the title for the third time.
Visually striking, with indigenous flora and fauna, riveted bunkers and rocky backdrops, the course has been set up as a 6282-yard par 72 for the championship and there are some serious undulation and inclines.
After a practice round, Woods said: “The greens are very undulated, so you have to be in the right quadrant, or the right area. I love the challenge and I’m excited to see how it plays once we start on Friday.
“I think I have a great chance. My game feels good. I always go into the week planning to win and if I’m able to execute, hopefully my best game is better than everybody else’s.
“I’ll have holes where I want to play aggressive and holes where I’ll play smart and safe, like number 17.”
The talk of the tournament, the 346-yard 17th is a steep uphill par-4 with plenty of visual drama. A strategic and intimidating hole, the correct club must be selected off the tee before playing over a stream to an uphill, blind putting surface which backs onto a rocky cliff face. Woods continued: “I found that a 4 hybrid was the best play for me. It’s about a 180 yard shot, which gives me a wedge in, a high shot, which is what you want, as the green is very tricky so to have that spin you just want to get it on the green and get out with a par.”
On top of winning, Woods is determined to experience some local culture but she’s already had a taste of India back in the USA. “My best friend from home is Indian and her parents are from India. Her name is Rimpi Saini. Her mom would always make me Indian food and I’ve been to the Indian parties where they have music. Indians are very good dancers and love to dance,” said the Phoenix, Arizona native, adding: “Every time we travel I try to find something local to see in the area so I’m hoping to find time this week to see some Indian culture. My favourite dish is chicken tikka masala and naan.”
The top ranked player in the tournament, Melissa Reid from England, who is fourth on the Ladies European Tour order of merit, is also visiting India for the first time while her closest challenger, the fifth ranked Frenchwoman Gwladys Nocera, is defending the title she won at the Delhi Golf Club last year.
Nocera, a 14-time tournament winner on the LET, also won the Ladies Masters tournament in Bangalore back in 2007 and she commented: “I love coming to India; it’s one of my favourite places. I’ve come here since the first LET event in 2007 and I really love it so I’m happy to be here.”
photos Janos Schmidt
photos Janos Schmidt