Gurugram, Nov 8 (IANS) Defending champion Aditi Ashok will spearhead the local challenge at the 11th edition of the Hero Women's Indian Open, starting at the DLF Golf and Country Club here on Thursday.
Back from a brilliant win at the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi, the 19-year-old Rio Olympian is eager to continue her dominance on the course.
"I have great memories of this course and just need three days of good starts to keep the lead. There are several top golfers competing in the tournament which will definitely make it a cut-throat competition," Aditi told IANS here on Wednesday.
The Abu Dhabi title was Aditi's third career win on the Ladies European Tour (LET) and the first one this year, following successes at the Hero Women's Indian Open and the Qatar Ladies Open last year.
Aditi's win last week in Abu Dhabi catapulted her from just around 100 to the 81st position, which should be a big boost for the teenager.
Among other Indians taking part in the tournament are Sharmila Nicollet, who is back after spending three months in the US.
From the domestic pool, Gaurika Bishnoi, leader on Hero Order of Merit on domestic Tour, will hope to repeat her success in the Indian Open.
Vani Kapoor, Amandeep Drall, Neha Tripathi and Smriti Mehra, who have been playing quite a few events on the Ladies European Tour, as also in Asia, will be watched closely.
Meanwhile, the strength of the field has been bolstered by the presence of four of the top-5 from the LET's 2016 Order of Merit.
Beth Allen, who topped the Money List last year; Aditi, who was second overall and also the Rookie of the Year, and Florentyna Parker the top-3 and No. 5 Isabelle Boineau have also made the trip to India.
Carlota Ciganda, who has been to India before and divides her time between the Ladies European Tour and the LPGA these days, is back in India for this year's Indian Open.
The world's highest ranked player in this field at No. 20, Ciganda is a former Order of Merit winner in 2012, which was also her Rookie year on the LET.
There are six players from the Top-20 of the latest Order of Merit including Ciganda (6th), Klara Spilkova (9th) Florentyna Parker (12th), Aditi (13th), Anne Van Dam (16th) and Ana Menedez (19th).
The 2016 edition was highlighted by a tight battle involving Aditi, Beth Allen and Belen Mozo in the closing stages and all three will be back to renew their rivalry at the Gary Player layout.