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This birdie's a whole in one

other Updated: Sep 04, 2011 00:30 IST
Rohit Bhaskar

Many summers ago, Australian golf icon Greg Norman let rip a comment that didn't sit down well with female golfers and feminists across the world. The Great White Shark's bone of contention was the overtly traditional, and inordinately uncomfortable, dress code of the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour.

"We should be allowed to wear shorts. God almighty, (LPGA Tour) women are allowed to wear 'em, and we've got better legs than they do," said Norman.

One look at the seemingly endless legs of the Women's Golf Association of India Tour's two-time defending Order of Merit champion, Sharmila Nicollet, and he would eat his words.

She's 5'11", has a heart-shaped face with an endearing smile, mesmerising brown doe-eyes, and a unique sense of style that would turn heads on the fashion ramps of Paris - to say nothing of its effects on the manicured-greens of a golf course. Just as well, she's half-French (on her dad Marc's side, her mom Surekha hails from Andhra Pradesh).

Sporty spice

Ask her about her introduction to golf, and you can see the eyes gleam. "I was a very sporty kid. I loved swimming. I was very good at tennis and basketball, too. But then, suddenly the golf bug bit me. I knew this is what I wanted to do," Nicollet tells HT in a candid conversation at the Karnataka Golf Association (KGA) course in Bangalore - her home course.

At the KGA she's the blue-eyed girl, the interview interrupted time and again by club members inquiring about her performance in the final round of the WGAI Tour event at the Clover Greens, on the outskirts of the town. "So, did you win?" is the common question. "No, not this one," she chortles each time.

A for Adventure

The 20-year-old likes to live on the edge, on the greens and off it.

Sample this: As a 14-year-old she'd gone to play a tournament in Lahore, Pakistan. After her round is done what does she do?

"I was scared at first, but then in the evening I went out. Now you must know this about me - I love knives. To my delight, almost every second shop had a vast array of knives," she reminisces.

And does she like to hit the nightclubs, in her spare time? "Sometimes, but in Bangalore all the clubs shut by 11.30, I don't know what the state government is doing. They've even banned dancing, they think clubs are dance bars!" she cribs.

Calling sponsors

With her impressive track record and a beaming personality, one would expect sponsors to be lining up at her doorstep. A far cry from reality. "I don't have any sponsors at the moment save for Nike who provide my equipment."

What's keeping them from signing her up? "I think I need to win an international tournament; look at Jeev (Milkha), Arjun (Atwal) or Gaganjeet (Bhullar). They all won abroad, I need to do that."

Offers, offers

There's no dearth of modelling and film offers for the lissome lass. "I keep getting offers to model, weirdly I've also got offers to act in Tollywood movies. It's so funny."

Dancing around trees? Not for her. Firing a golf ball from the rough, through a maze of trees and on to the green? Now that's more like it.