Jeev Milkha Singh will again spearhead the home challenge at the fourth edition of the Avantha Masters, which will be played from March 14-17 at a new venue, Jaypee Greens Golf Course, near New Delhi.
Singh is India's most successful golfer, having accrued a total of four European Tour titles including last year's Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open. He is also a two-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner.
His best performance at the Avantha Masters, which is tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and PGTI, came in 2011, when he finished in a tie for 11th place behind his compatriot S.S.P. Chowrasia at DLF Golf and Country Club.
This year the Â1.8million tournament moves to the town of Greater Noida, located 40 kilometres south-east of New Delhi, and Singh is expecting plenty of birdies for the locals to cheer at Jaypee Greens GC.
He said: "It's a Greg Norman golf course, well-designed and usually in good condition. I don't think the rough is going to be up because the winter has been quite severe, which is a shame because the course probably needs a bit of rough to defend it.
"It's quite a long course but if you're a good driver of the ball and you hit it a fair way off from tee, then I think you're going to enjoy playing on the course. I think the scoring that week is going to be quite low, unless the wind picks up and makes life a little tougher for us. But I'm sure all the guys are going to enjoy the tournament."
Singh will be joined in Greater Noida by several of his fellow Indians, including Challenge Tour champions Gaganjeet Bhullar and Shiv Kapur, two-time Asian Tour winner Anirbarn Lahiri and Chowrasia, who in addition to his Avantha Masters triumph in 2011 also won the 2008 EMAAR-MGF Indian Masters which was jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and The European Tour.
Singh feels the Avantha Masters is the perfect platform for India's emerging talent to enhance their burgeoning reputations.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
"It's very important that we have a European Tour event in India," he said. "The Avantha Masters is the only Tour event in India, so I'm really looking forward to it and I'm sure the other Indian players are too. The president of the PGTI is very committed to the tournament and he's done a lot for the game in India, so I'm keen to support the event and excited about showcasing golf in India.
"Gaganjeet [Bhullar] is a fantastic prospect, as is [Anirbarn] Lahiri, Shiv [Kapur], SSP [Chowrasia] - all these guys have a lot of talent. These guys are very hungry and they want to prove themselves, so I think the future is very bright for them. The world is there for the taking, so now it's up to them to seize their opportunities."
As for his own aspirations for the coming season, Singh - who finished in the top ten at last week's Omega Dubai Desert Classic - has set his sights on climbing from his current position of 91st into the upper echelons of the Official World Golf Ranking, and qualifying for the Major Championships.Â Â Â Â Â
He said: "My goal this season, if I can stay injury-free, is to get back into the top 50 in the world, get in the Majors and have a good go at it. I'm feeling pretty good about my game now, so I'm excited about the season ahead and hopefully I can build on some great results last year."
Vidya Basarkod, President (Sales & Marketing) of Jaypee Greens, said: "Jeev is easily India's most successful and recognisable golfer, so we are delighted to welcome a player of his stature to Jaypee Greens. I'm sure his presence alone will ensure a large turn-out at the tournament, and hopefully he can give the spectators something to cheer about. It will be an honour to host him and the rest of the talented field at what promises to be a wonderful week of top-class golfing action."