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Bjorn, Johnston to lead strong field in Indian Open golf

© AFP/File | Team Europe captain Thomas Bjorn will head a strong field at the Indian Open next month

NEW DELHI (AFP) - 

Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn and popular England golfer Andrew Johnston will head a strong field at the 54th Hero Indian Open starting next month.

They will join top Indian players including rising star Shubhankar Sharma and defending champ SSP Chawrasia in the event which offers $1.75 million in prize money.

The Asian Tour tournament is co-sanctioned by the European Tour.

"The Indian Open has become a key date on the Asian Tour schedule over the years and a welcome edition to the European Tour's international roster of tournaments since 2015," said Charlie Tingey, EurAsia golf senior director, in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Denmark's Bjorn -- who will become the first Scandinavian to lead Europe in this year's Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Paris -- has claimed 15 European tour titles.

Johnston will bolster the list of marquee players, which will include Argentina's Emiliano Grillo -- a PGA Tour winner and member of the 2017 Presidents Cup team.

Sharma, 21, will be the local favourite, having won two European Tour events including the $3 million Maybank Championship in Malaysia in under two months.

Sharma -- ranked 71st in the world -- will be joined by Indian stars Shiv Kapur, Team Asia captain Arjun Atwal and past tournament winner Anirban Lahiri at the DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurgaon for the event starting March 8.

"There is lot of healthy competition from the younger guys and the older ones are still knocking on the door... there is a golden generation of Indian golf that is pushing each other on," Kapur told reporters.

© 2018 AFP