Shiv to Kap a good spell in India
In-form home hope Shiv Kapur can continue a great recent run of form with victory in this week's Avantha Masters in India.
- Related Content
Indian golf is on an upward curve and we get a chance to see some of their rising stars this week in a fascinating Avantha Masters.
Rashid Khan and Khalin Joshi are a couple of names to bear in mind for future having drawn some rave reviews from their peers recently but it is the more experienced Shiv Kapur who could capitalise on a blistering run and land the biggest win of his career.
The New Delhi resident - not far from Noida where this event is staged - lost his European Tour card after six full seasons but has bounced back from that reverse in pretty spectacular fashion with two titles in two starts.
One came in a minor event but then he struck once again with victory on the European Challenge Tour at the Gujarat Kensville Challenge by two shots, where he fired a course-record 65 in the third round.
"Now that I have won this it might be a sign of things to come," he said and duly consolidated that performance with a fourth place last week in the SAIL-SBI Open.
He added: "I had a little bit of self doubt but deep down I knew I had it in me."
And with the confidence being restored at a rate of knots, Kapur could well be worth catching while he enjoys this excellent purple patch.
He is no bigger than 33/1 - which is not giving a massive amount away - but momentum counts for a lot in my book and he should go very close to restoring his place on the European Tour.
Kapur finished behind Anirban Lahiri after the latter successfully defended his SAIL-SBI Open title and he should also be in the mix at 30/1 having described this week's venue at Jaypee Greens as "one of my favourite courses".
His victory came last week after defeating the aforementioned Rashid Khan in a play-off and having started to find the winning knack, he has now set his sights on winning events outside of India.
His opportunity to do that could come with a big display here and although the pressure increases considerably on the local golfers in a tri-sanctioned event like this, Lahiri seems to have the right approach to rise to the challenge.
There is a precedent he can follow too - Mark Brown won the SAIL-SBI Open one week in 2008 and then immediately followed up next week when India staged the Johnnie Walker Classsic. It can be done and Lahiri has the ability to prove it once again.
The course at Jaypee Greens is designed by Greg Norman - his only project in India - and at a little over 7,300 yards, is a fairly lengthy test. The fairways are pretty generous and the rough is not expected to be too penal after a pretty harsh winter in the area which has not encouraged much growth of grass.
Thomas Aiken and Pablo Larrazabal are two interesting runners this week and their connection with the Norman-designed Real Club de Golf El Prat in Barcelona could be the reason why both have made the lengthy journey to compete.
Aiken won at the latter venue in 2011 and a look at the two course descriptions indicates they are not a million miles apart and suggests the South African should be able to adapt to the layout.
Fellow countryman Jbe Kruger won the event last year, while we have already had five winners from South Africa on the European Tour in 2013 as they have dominated events at home in that part of the schedule.
Aiken must have looked on with some envy but he has nice form to his name in the early part of this year and I can see him comfortably bouncing back from a missed cut at the Tshwane Open.
Larrazabal is attached to the club at El Prat as touring professional and I would not be shocked to see him go well on this course. He has past form in India as well and although he has yet to find his best so far in 2013, Larrazabal is a streaky player who can hit form as quickly as it seemingly deserts him.
He may feel he has a bit of a score to settle too in the event having led going into the final round two years ago only to shoot an erratic closing 72 that had double-bogeys, bogeys and an eagle.
He is in among the 66/1 chances this week and could turn out to be a fair bit better than that quote.
Final selection this week is up towards the head of the betting again and is Chile's Felipe Aguilar.
There have not been too many players who have impressed me more in 2013 and three top-nine finishes on the spin on the European Tour - two of them top-threes - have really made him look on the verge of a victory sooner rather than later.
He has also added a sixth since in the Chile Classic plus has experience of playing in India with three improving outings and a best of T17 in this event 12 months ago.
Aguilar is not a power hitter from the tee but the quality of his game at the moment means he makes a good deal of appeal at 28/1.