Mumbai, May 4 (UNI) His title drought running for more than a decade, seasoned pro Gaurav Ghei hopes to capitalise on home advantage and complete his recovery from a lean spell when he tees off at the inaugural 400,000 dollar Aamby Valley Asian Masters here next week.
''Playing in India is great and with the home support and local cheers, it is definitely an advantage playing on home soil. I feel good and I'm looking forward to the Aamby Valley Asian Masters,'' said Ghei, who was second at the Hero Honda Indian Open last year.
The 37-year-old Delhi golfer was one of the sub-continent's first players to break through the Asian Tour, but it has been more than a decade since his only career victory in the Gadgil Western Masters in 1995 at Delhi Golf Club, where he dramatically chipped in for an eagle at the 72nd hole to pip compatriot Vijay Kumar.
That victory propelled Ghei to fifth place on the Order of Merit that season and two years later, he made more waves by becoming the first Indian to qualify for the British Open.
More success was to follow as he trumped over Colin Montgomerie as India pulled off a great upset over Scotland at the Alfred Dunhill Cup at St Andrews Golf Club.
Much was expected from Ghei soon after but a spate of injuries curtailed his appearances. It was only last year that Ghei finally showed up once more when the fit-again Indian challenged for the Hero Honda Indian Open before settling for second place.
''It was a dream round,'' said Ghei, who enjoyed a sense of deja vu at his home Open last year as he chipped in for birdie on the 18th during the final round which was nearly a repeat of his eagle some 10 years ago. ''I played my heart out there.'' This season, Ghei has built on his new-found form and finished tied fifth in the TCL Classic in China and also posted a top-20 at the Maybank Malaysian Open. With India hosting a brand new tournament at Aamby Valley City, a world-class resort, Ghei is looking for another slice of history by becoming the inaugural winner.
''I have won in India before and there is no reason why I can't do it again. Hosting the event in Aamby Valley City is good as it is a beautiful place,'' said Ghei.
He was also delighted to see golf expanding to various cities in the sub-continent as the Aamby Valley Asian Masters will be the first time that an Asian Tour event has been held outside of Kolkata and New Delhi.
''We've had tournaments in Kolkata and New Delhi previously but never elsewhere, so it is a positive step in exposing the golfers to the other parts of India. It will also be my first time playing there and I'm eager to compete,'' said Ghei.
Last week, Ghei finished tied 25th at the GS Caltex Maekyung Open in Korea.
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