Singapore: Jeev Milkha Singh and Gaganjeet Bhullar may be the two most famous Indian golfers but back home Shamim Khan and Rashid Khan have been most dominating ones on the burgeoning Indian PGTI Tour, which has been producing stars in ever-growing numbers.
The two dominating Khans of Indian golf will be among the 11 Indians teeing off at the USD Six million Barclay's Singapore Open, which has one of the strongest fields ever in its five-decade long history. The field includes reigning World No.1 Rory McIlroy, four-time Major winner Phil Mickelson and three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington among others.
The tournament will also see the 2010 Open winner Louis Oosthuizen, who was also the 2012 Masters runner-up, former British Open winner, Todd Hamilton and Michael Campbell, a former US Open winner and the charismatic Miguel Angel Jimenez and the colourful John Daly.
Shamim and Rashid have been phenomenal on the Indian Tour. While Shamim has made the cut in each of his 18 starts and has an incredible 15 top-10s including three wins, Rashid has missed just one cut in 16 starts and has 11 top-10s with one victory.
The two are here in Singapore Open by virtue of their holding the top two positions on PGTI's Order of Merit.
Shamim said: "This is a great opportunity for us. Indian golf is very strong and we need to shoot really low scores to win. Coming here and playing with some of the best players in the world is indeed a good experience for us."
Rashid Khan, an Asian Games team silver medalist like Bhullar, Lahiri and Chiragh Kumar, added: "I have been here before but missed the cut last year. I played the course today and it is really a pleasure.
"It is a world-class field and to be able to play in the same tournament as the World No. 1 and many Major winners is indeed a great chance for me. I am looking forward to a good week and who knows what happens in this game," he added. MORE PTI Cor ATK
Jeev won this event in 2008, the year he won his second Asian Tour Order of Merit, while Bhullar is having his best season ever with two titles on Asian tour, a top-10 at CIMB Classic and a top-20 in the WGC-HSBC last week.
Jeev, Bhullar and the two Khans apart, the other Indians in the field include Tour champions, Jyoti Randhawa, winner of Singapore Open in 2000, two-time European Tour winner, SSP Chowrasia, Asian Tour winners Anirban Lahiri, Himmat Rai, Shiv Kapur and Digvijay Singh, who achieved his career's first Asian Tour win this season, besides Chiragh Kumar.
The star parade began on Monday itself with the arrival of some of the best players from around the world for the USD 6 million Barclays Singapore Open this week.
Three-time winner of the tournament, Adam Scott, the two-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner, Jeev Milkha Singh, winner here in 2008, three-time Major winner, Padraig Harrington, the colourful John Daly were among the early arrivals on Monday. Also already in town were Colin Montgomerie, the eight-time European Tour Order of Merit, and McIlroy arrived early today to set the tone for one of Asia's flagship events.
As McIlroy makes his first appearance in Singapore since 2008 he finished fourth the field is one of the strongest in event's history. Asia with eight Major winners and 69 European Tour winners and more than 30 Asian tour winners.
Adam Scott is looking for his fourth win at the event, while other previous champions teeing up this year are Randhawa (2000), Thaworn Wiratchant (2001) and Jeev (2008). The Molinari brothers, Francesco and Edoardo, are also in the fray.
Francesco will be looking to put the icing on the cake of a tremendous season with victory at the Singapore Open, while Edoardo, on the comeback trail after a three-month injury layoff, will join him in the stellar field. The siblings had teamed up to win the World Cup of Golf for Italy in 2009.
Reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines hopes to bring home another huge pay check at the USD 6 million event especially with the impending birth of his second child on the way.
Despite having to settle for second place last year after losing in a Monday play-off to Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano of Spain, Pagunsan picked up one of his biggest career prize money wins and also the coveted Order of Merit crown.
This year marks the 49th staging of the Singapore Open, which is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.