At 9.43pm (IST) on Tuesday, an acquaintance, who happens to report on golf, posted on Shiv Kapur’s Facebook wall, "Congratulations, Mr Kapur! So Muirfield looks like a done deal!!! I will see you there."
The feeling was he’d done enough with a final round 64, and Shiv can now smile at the first of the congratulatory messages, lauding him for qualifying for the 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield, but making his way to the clubhouse at Dunbar (Scotland) under a grey sky, he wasn’t sure. Perhaps, it was the intermittent rain that had sown some seeds of doubt. Trying his best to stay warm, Shiv strode in to commence a wait that was to last four hours.
Brought up in the warm climes of Delhi, Shiv, even after numerous seasons in Europe, is yet to embrace the cold. "I happen to play better when the chill is down," he said.
Worth the pain
Anyway, at the end of it, Shiv was indeed among the three to make the grade from the Local Final Qualifying here, but in his bid to maintain a supposedly calm exterior, the fingertips had taken a beating. But the dull pain and loose strands of skin did little to belittle the occasion.
Two weeks from now, Shiv, 31, will turn out to justify his "existence" as a golfer, though only for the second time in his career. "Getting to play the Majors (it is The Open for him for all its history) is why you play golf," he said. But this time he’s better prepared. If in 2006, just two years after turning professional, he felt like a "child in a candy shop", he is "a lot more ready" now. "After all, I’m a veteran of some sort," he laughs.
It was a sedate 69 in the opening round early on Tuesday on this par-70 links course, but Shiv drew heart from the saying, "You can lose it in the first round." He had given himself a chance.
Rain came and went but Shiv stayed unaffected, driven by his target and the prodding of caddy and longtime chum, Neeraj Sareen.
A figure of six-under on the mind, the task was half done at the turn but there was also the realisation that steady play was critical while negotiating the back nine. He managed it beautifully, traversing from one tricky hole to another, yet before taking the final putt, for birdie of course, he stopped to ponder.
"I told him (Neeraj), ‘we knock it, and we’ll be fine’." Shiv’s man on the bag "knows what to say and when", which is handy given the player’s tendency to "get hot under the collar". It is not known but he did whisper a word or two. It worked. It was a dream putt.