Like any youngster growing up in a nation starved of sporting excellence, cricket was an integral part of Shiv Kapur's formative years. "I was an all-rounder," he'd tell you proudly. Drawing closer, a whisper would follow, "That's because I wasn't good enough."
The switch to golf is irreversible, but off the course, cricket still has a firm grip on the golfer. Stepping off the 18th green on Thursday, Shiv greeted the small gathering with a smile. The joy was understandable - the 69 on the opening day of the Gujarat Kensville Challenge had left him a stroke adrift of Rahil Gangjee.
He chirped, "Australia 50/3!"
Though adamant that he does not keep a tab on scores after tee-off, Shiv made an exception during the World Cup final in April. Featuring at the Trophee Hassan II in Agadir, Morocco, his tee-off time robbed him of the climax against Sri Lanka. Such was the yearning that an arrangement was worked out with the broadcasters on the course, and he got updates every two overs. The win sent the country into ecstasy, and on a personal front, Shiv finished a creditable T29 the next day.
The afternoon tee-off on Friday meant he was able to catch most of the action from the fourth day at Adelaide, but the news of yet another Indian capitulation reached him when he was within the parameters of the clubhouse. Clutched in the grimy palm was a card that narrated a different tale. Keeping up the good work at the Kensville Golf and Country Club, the 68 had placed him alongside overnight leader Rahil Gangjee, who shot a 69.
The back nine (front nine in his case) has been a sore point, but Shiv, who is out to reclaim his European Tour card after losing it last season, came out unscathed for the second day running. He sank an eagle and two birdies. The only blemish was a silly mistake on the 6th.