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Vintage golf with old world charm

other Updated: Dec 02, 2010 01:24 IST
Robin Bose
Robin Bose
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Perhaps it has to be his floundering form, Paul McGinley has a tendency to hark back. No sooner had he settled for an interaction on the eve of the Hero Honda Indian Open, the Irishman's gaze caught the silver trophy placed in front. Leaning forth, he swayed in a bid to escape the glare of the arc-lights as he tried catching the names etched at the base of the cup.

Ever since turning pro in 1991, a majority of the 43-year-old's appearances have unfolded at Europe's numerous designer or modern courses, which are conspicuous with water hazards strewn all over. His maiden visit to the Delhi Golf Club (DGC) has left McGinley pining for more. "How I love these old-fashioned courses," he said, throwing a longing glance at the adjoining 10th tee. "It's a pity they don't make them anymore," he rued.

A left knee injury may have caused him to miss out on five months of action earlier this year, but the Ryder Cup stalwart, fresh from leading Europe to a great victory as one of the non-playing vice-captains, is looking at the positive end. "It's December but it hasn't registered with the golfing brain yet. This means I'm still fresh," he smiled.

If the feeling persists this week, and McGinley is able to draw from his fondness for antiquity, he could add to a resume that is dominated by his Ryder Cup exploits in 2002, 2004 and 2006.

In case McGinley is unable to hit upon the form that led him to hole the winning putt to signal Europe's supremacy over the US in 2002, he has interests off the course. "I want to explore the country and experience its culture, which includes sampling the cuisine," he said. For Jyoti Randhawa, no such diversions lie in store. The angst of losing his card on the European Tour is fresh, and when in such a situation, the 38-year-old is known to rise like a Phoenix. "Playing at home, be it the DGC or DLF Golf & Country Club, acts as a balm and is an inspiration to do well," he has said on numerous occasions and has performed accordingly to back the words.

Come Thursday, the three-time winner of the national Open will be hoping that this traditional fallback works for him again.

Free of the worries of fighting for a card, Arjun Atwal and Shiv Kapur, in particular, will look to translate their familiarity with the conditions into success. Defending champion, C Muniyappa, has been struggling for form as well, but his woes have been compounded by the back injury he picked up in Hong Kong two weeks back. Given the pain, the urge was to pull out, but images of holding aloft the trophy with tear-moistened eyes have caused the 33-year-old to persist.

Stars to watch out for