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Enticed by golf, Viru putts with gusto

The 27-yr-old batsman has turned to ball game in a big way and is fast learning to chip and putt. Food bug also bites Sehwag

india Updated: Aug 12, 2006 00:06 IST

Bitten by the golf bug, Virender Sehwag has turned to the ball game in a big way and is fast learning to chip and putt -- at home, or on the cricket field and on golf courses.

The Indian cricket team vice-captain is so much in love with this game that he carries a golf set in his car when in Delhi, and never loses an opportunity to practise hitting the white dimpled balls with his Taylor Made clubs.

"It's a very interesting game, and it is easy for a cricketer to play the game as both involve swing," Sehwag said with a twinkle in his eyes.

"It is frustrating to miss the ball sometimes, but when you hit it right you enjoy it thoroughly," he said, swinging his golf stick to exhibit his putting skills on the cricket field of his alma mater, the Government Boys' Higher Secondary School in Vikaspuri in west Delhi.

Sehwag connects with the ball perfectly, making it sail high, straight out of the field and on to the terrace of a flat at a distance. The sound of the ball hitting a green fibre sheet on the terrace was clearly audible. Even the woman of the house heard it and quickly came out to see if nothing was broken, before returning the ball.

That was Sehwag power.

And then the 27-year-old cricketer, India's only triple centurion in Test matches, showed how to play the chip shot. He changed clubs and hit the ball, which was almost lost in the overgrown grass, with a deft swing of his wrist.

That was Sehwag, skill personified.

Sehwag, who has played 49 Tests and 152 one-day internationals, said it was easy to play these shots in practice.

"But, when you play these shots on a golf course, it becomes difficult to repeat them because of the pressure," said the Delhi captain, who never gives an impression of being under pressure while batting.

A late starter in golf, Sehwag began taking more interest in the game after Adidas, whose brand ambassador he is, presented him with an expensive Taylor Made set.

He played golf on the team's recent tour of the West Indies -- where he also rediscovered his batting form -- and on his return to Delhi he continued to practise on a golf course in nearby Gurgaon city.

"I played the game for three-four days, up to four hours a day at times," he disclosed.

The man is obviously in love with the game. After playing a few shots, Sehwag invited his coach of school days, Amar Nath Sharma, who was watching him putt keenly, to try his hand.

Sharma was handling a golf stick for the first time, and so his grip was wrong. Sehwag guided Sharma's hands on how to hold the club, placing them on the white mark that indicates the correct place.

"Sir, hold it like this, and your nose should be in line of the blade," he said, sitting on his haunches and pointing with his finger.

"The grip for golf is different from that in cricket," Sehwag said, turning for that moment into a golf teacher to his former school coach.

He also explained to Sharma the position required for the right thumb on a golf club. Sharma finally played a shot, but was not very enthusiastic.

A cousin of Sehwag who had accompanied the cricketer said that the master batsman also plays golf at his Najafgarh home, a few kilometres from the school.

With former India captain Kapil Dev setting the trend by taking to big time golf, Sehwag looks set to emulate him and Cricketer master the greens.

First Published: Aug 10, 2006 17:52 IST