Home Comfort: Shiv Kapur Puts Up Strong Display At Delhi Golf Club To Pocket Panasonic Open India, His First Asian Tour Title On Home Course
Taking a break can be a boon; Shiv Kapur proved just that by fulfilling his long-awaited dream of winning his first international title at his home course – Delhi Golf Club.
The Asian Games individual gold medallist had missed the previous two Asian Tour events because of a relapse of dengue, practising only once in the past one month.
Kapur carded a 4-under 68 in the final round to lift the US$400,000 Panasonic Open India after a few nervous moments did try to derail his ambitions. But the memory of the time he spent with his 3-month-old daughter Veda early in the morning calmed his nerves and encouraged him to fight back despite stiff challenge being put up from American Paul Peterson and a bunch of fellow Indians.
The golfer had watched close friends Chiragh Kumar and Gaurav Ghei walk up to the 18th green to thunderous applause and picking up a glittering trophy and he had also harboured similar hopes of emulating them one day; which he did in dominating fashion in front of his parents Ravi and Renu Kapur, wife Maya and his newborn Veda.
“It’s an amazing feeling. This victory has not really sunk in yet but when I was walking down the 18th, I was really trying to hold back emotions. I was telling myself ‘just finish the race, finish the race’ and it’s just amazing to be able to do it. To be able to win in front of all my friends and family is wonderful. I grew up playing golf here and told myself I got to win at the Delhi Golf Club one day. So no words can actually describe how I’m feeling right now. The reception I got when I was coming up the 18 was just amazing. It was well worth the wait,” an emotional Kapur told reporters later. He pocketed US$ 72,000 (approx. Rs. 46.6 lakh) for his effort.
The 35-year-old was in the mix since the opening round when he carded a 7-under 65 to trail in-form Ajeetesh Sandhu (at 8-under 64), who was coming on the back of twin victories in Taiwan and Japan. Kapur then recorded a steady round of 3-under 69 in Round 2 to remain within one stroke of Peterson. The reigning Yeangder Heritage champion eagled the 18th hole from 30 feet to catch hold of Peterson in the lead.
But expectations of clinching the elusive title in front of home fans started to weigh heavily upon Kapur. He woke up at 2am ‘with all sorts of thoughts’ that led him to playing a bit ‘conservative’, however not for long. A bogey on the 10th prompted him to bring out his best. “I was very aggressive the first few days but I had a pretty conservative strategy today. I just wanted to eliminate the mistakes on the card and I started off playing really steady. I had a three-putt on 10 which sort of got me going. I was like ‘come on, I can do this’. I birdied 11 followed by 12 and then 14 and 15. When I stood at the leaderboard on 14, I said to myself ‘I got to take the tournament by the scuff of the neck. I’m not going to play conservatively anymore’ and I took out my driver. I attacked the flag all the way coming in and that aggressive golf paid off,” the two-time European Challenge Tour winner said.
Interestingly, Kapur had ended a 12-year-long title drought on the Asian Tour in April and there is no looking back after his Panasonic Open heroics. “It’s amazing to have two wins this year and I’ve to thank a lot of people for believing in me and supporting me. The form is good and the confidence is high, so there’s no reason why I cannot win again,” a delighted Kapur said.
Winning the second of the five-leg Panasonic Swing series meant Kapur rose to the top of the standings with 2,665 points, booking his berth for the season finale in Japan and earning an exemption to a dedicated European Tour event next year.
The event in its 7th edition saw record 49 Indians out of 72 making the cut with 15 finishing in the top-20 and 6 local pros — Chiragh Kumar, SSP Chawrasia, Om Prakash Chouhan, Ajeetesh Sandhu, Karandeep Kochhar and Sudhir Sharma — claiming the runner-up spot alongside Peterson.
Delhi GC member Shamim Khan and Honey Baisoya shared 9th place with matching totals of 12-under 276.
(Read more in the December issue of Golf Digest India. Download here.)