Soon after making par on the 9th, Shiv Kapur started the descent to make his way to the 10th tee. Shortly before hitting the cart path, an acquaintance interrupted. Putting an arm around in embrace, he exclaimed, “It’s your luck as it is mine.” Taken aback by the unexpected words in front of the sparse crowd, all he could manage was a sheepish grin before moving on.
Kapur’s reaction may have been modest but his card after the front nine reeked of aggression. Seven-under after nine is exceptional on a tight course like the Delhi Golf Club, and if Kapur was surprised by the putter’s fluency on the penultimate day of the SAIL Open, after it was “stone cold” the previous day, the thin gathering was treated to a rare spectacle. He went on to pick up two more shots to sign for a flawless 63 and at 14-under 202, has a share of the lead with rookie Richard Karlberg of Sweden.
Turning out on his home course in three years, the eagerness was infectious but the world No. 209, had an ear to the ground.
After playing even par on Wednesday, which saw him slip two spots to T6, Kapur was aware of the need to hang on. “Yesterday, it was a round to make a move but I didn’t. Starting the day five back, I needed to hit a low number to get back in contention,” he said.
Kapur’s wish was granted but quite a few factors went into making it happen. The role of the putter was undeniable, which ensured he kept the momentum going by holing the par putts, when he wasn’t making birdie, his caddy too had a big say. “We read the lines together but at the end of the day if there are doubts, I go with him. The trust is 100 per cent.”
From the time when he failed to read the lines in the practice round to holding on to the lead for the third day, the greenhorn in Karlberg has captured the experience on this challenging course for posterity.
Alien to the country and venue, the Swede spelt out his priorities again by finding the fairways and inching towards the target of 18-under par.
Kapur’s surge may have pushed the bar higher and the winning score could go past 20, but the 23-year-old from Gothenburg, who turned pro in 2006, has picked up the gauntlet, driven as he is by the desire to win and “play as much as I can in Asia.”