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I was mentally tired: Shiv Kapur

The Arjuna Award winner tells us about his qualification and preparation for the upcoming British Open.

india Updated: Jun 03, 2006 13:33 IST

Shiv Kapur won the Arjuna Award right at the start of his career - courtesy his gold medal at the 2002 Busan Asian Games. The Delhi golfer turned pro after playing collegiate golf in the US, and won in his rookie season on the Indian Tour.

Still, there had been suppressed complaints that the 24-year-old was taking a bit too long to break ground playing among the big boys. But the last six months have made the doubters change their minds.

He has qualified to play the British Open, though his preparation for the biggest stage of his career may have worried golf fans.

The past three to four weeks haven't been that good, and with the Open not far away, it might seem he needs to quickly regain the magical touch that saw him win the Volvo Masters of Asia last December.

In Delhi recently for a short sabbatical before he proceeds to Europe, Kapur spoke to Hindustan Times about his plans and how he's developed as a golfer.  

You took a while coming into your own after the Busan Asian Games. What happened?

It was nothing actually. I was playing college golf in the US. I have heard this criticism before. I remember when I first won a PGAI tour event back in 2004 in Chennai, I read a report that said, 'Shiv comes out of a slump'.

To tell you the truth, after the Asian Games, I got a golf scholarship. I wasn't being arrogant, but I had realised then itself that I was better than anyone else playing with me, so I needed to hone my skills. I joined the Purdue University in Indiana. There my schedule made me get up at 5.30 am and sleep only at 11.00 pm.

Playing in different conditions out there and rubbing shoulders with the best of the lot - Luke Donald, Paul Casey and others - taught me a lot. It instilled a sense of independence.

After winning the Volvo Masters in December, you've struggled a bit. In fact, at the other Volvo event that Jeev won, you missed the cut.

It has been an exhausting last few months for me. To give you an idea, I had already played 16 weeks this year by May and that is about half the tournaments you play! I've been right across the globe. That has taken a toll on me and so I've taken three weeks off. Golf is more of a mental game, and I was mentally tired.

What about your preparations for the British Open?

Well, I am going to England a month before the Open starts just to get a feel of the courses and the conditions. I am playing in two tournaments before the Open, including the Scottish Open, which should see all the top players.

Apart from Jyoti, who placed 27th, British Open has been tough for Indians.

Which is why I've planned my schedule in this way. After this rest I am going to play in two important warm-up events.

Your future plans?

Well, I have already got the European Tour card, so next season I'll play in Europe. I am 24 and I have time with me. As for the PGA Tour, I should be ready for it by the time I'm 26.

How do you assess golf in India?

I think it is all star-driven. The more champions we produce, the more the interest will grow. However, in terms of popularity, you can't compare golf with games like cricket and soccer. I'll give you an instance from my childhood - while in school, I played cricket and soccer because I wanted to be counted as a 'man'. Golf was called a 'sissy' sport. I took up golf later just because my dad used to play.