Greater Noida: European Tour great Colin Montgomerie headlines the strongest field ever assembled for the Avantha Masters teeing off in India on Thursday.
Montgomerie, an eight-time winner of the European Order of Merit, faces a tough challenge from a strong field in which 50 of the 156 players have tasted victory on the European Tour and 38 have secured titles on the Asian Tour.
The Scot will be joined by fellow former European Ryder Cup stars Niclas Fasth of Sweden, Ignacio Garrido of Spain, England's David Howell, Italy's Edoardo Molinari, Frenchman Thomas Levet and Philip Price of Wales.
Leading the Asian challenge at the 1.8 million euro ($2.3 million) event will be four Asian Tour Order of Merit champions -- Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, the Indian duo of Jyoti Randhawa and Jeev Milkha Singh, and China's Liang Wenchong.
Montgomerie, who turns 50 in June, will make his maiden appearance at the tournament as he strengthens his ties with India, where he has designed a new course in the popular tourist destination of Goa.
"India is unquestionably one of the world's biggest growth areas for golf, so I'm really looking forward to teeing up in the Avantha Masters," the Scot said in a statement released by the organisers.
"Having recently added a project in Goa to my golf course design portfolio, I hope to play my part in the development of the game in India."
Among the home crowd favourites for the tournament, co-sanctioned by the European and Asian tours, will be caddie-turned pro SSP Chowrasia, who won the Avantha Masters in 2011. South Africa's Jbe Kruger won in 2012.
Chowrasia, 34, became only the third Indian after Arjun Atwal and Jeev Milkha Singh to win a European Tour title when he captured the Indian Masters in 2008.
"When you win on the European Tour twice, it means you must be doing something good," said the soft-spoken Chowrasia, who was formerly a caddie at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club where his father tended the greens.
"Now I am a much better player. I am excited about this tournament because I have played at the Jaypee Greens many times and know what to expect. This is one event every Indian player wants to win."
The fourth edition of India's richest golf event will be held at a new venue -- the Greg Norman-designed 7,347-yard (6,718 metres) par-72 Jaypee Greens in Greater Noida on the outskirts of the capital New Delhi.