Indian golfers including Vani Kapoor and Sharmila Nicollet will lead the home challenge even as France’s Gwladys Nocera returns to defend her Hero Women’s Indian Open title when the event tees off at the DLF Golf and Country Club here on Friday. (Read more golf stories here)

The three-day 54-hole tournament is a tri-sanctioned event, which will see some of the top stars from the LET, Ladies Asian Golf Tour (LAGT) and the Women’s Golf Association of India (WGAI) vying for the title.

The country’s only Ladies European Tour (LET) golf tournament with an increased prize money of USD 400,000 will see some of the top golfers in the fray as the foreign field will be led by Nocera, 2013 Indian Open winner from Thailand Thidapa Suwannapura, Cheyenne Woods, niece of US great Tiger Woods, Englishwomen Melissa Reid, winner of the 2015 Turkish Open, Hannah Burke, 2015 Tipsport Golf Masters title holder and Trish Johnson.

It was a good tournament last year for Indian players as Vaishavi Sinha and Gauri Monga finished fifth and tied eighth respectively.

While the duo returns to have a shot at the title, the strong Indian line up will have the likes of Vani Kapoor, Hero Order of Merit leader with four wins this season, Sharmila Nicollet, Amandeep Drall, Neha Tripathi, Smriti Mehra and amateur Aditi Ashok.

While seasoned Indian professionals can make their presence felt, there are high expectations from Aditi, who first grabbed attention as a 14-year-old at the 2011 Queen’s Sirikit Cup and finished eighth at the 2012 Women’s Indian Open.

Aditi has been in red-hot form this year, becoming the first Asian to bag the title of the St Rule Trophy and the Lawson Trophy at St Andrews, Scotland.

Earlier this year, she also became the first Indian to win the Ladies British Amateur Open Stroke Play Championship and the 81st Singha Thailand Amateur.

Aditi, who finished 14th at last year’s Women’s Indian Open, is entering this edition with a strong international winning record and will be one of the title contenders to watch out for.



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