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Dodt faces strong local challenge at Avantha Masters in India

2009 European TourNEW DELHI – Defending champion Andrew Dodt will need to hold off a strong contingent of local Indian golfers to reclaim his title at this week’s Avantha Masters.

The Australia, who won the first edition at the DLF Golf and Country Club, will be up against players like Jeev Milkha Singh, widely seen as the standard bearer of Indian golf. Singh has yet to win in India despite six victories in Asia, three in Europe and four in Japan.

“I need to change that record,” said Singh, who is coming back from injury. “I’m feeling much better. I’ve played the last four weeks in the Middle East swing and this is my fifth week in a row. There is pain and I’m not 100 percent.

“I’m moving in the right direction and I’m doing a lot of yoga and physiotherapy. I’m taking three weeks off after this and I think I should be ready in another month’s time.”

Another contender is Jyoti Randhawa, who has won a record five Asian Tour events in India. Gaganjeet Bhullar, Rahil Gangjee, Shiv Kapur, SSP Chowrasia and C Muniyappa, who won the Indian Open on the same course, are also in the field.

“I’m having a dream run this year, winning three weeks in a row, and I could not have asked for a better start to my season,” Bhullar said. “I’m really feeling positive about my game right now and let’s see what happens this week.”

Others in the field of the joint European-Asian event include Thongchai Jaidee, Mardan Mamat, Tetsuji Hiratsuka and Danny Chia.

Although Dodt won at the DLF Golf and Country Club last year, he has been struggling in 2011.

“I didn’t play as well as I would like to, making just one cut out of four events so far this year,” Dodt said. “But having said that, I just need one good round to kick start things.”