For defending Indian Open champ SSP Chawrasia familiarity breeds confidence | other sports | Hindustan Times
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For defending Indian Open champ SSP Chawrasia familiarity breeds confidence

SSP Chawrasia goes into the 54th edition of Indian Open, to be played over the DLF Golf and Country Club course from March 8-11, on the back of some ordinary showing so it is just as well that he is the way he is.

other sports Updated: Mar 03, 2018 17:01 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
SSP Chawrasia won the 2017 Indian Open and is hoping for a great show in the 2018 edition from March 8-11.
SSP Chawrasia won the 2017 Indian Open and is hoping for a great show in the 2018 edition from March 8-11.(AFP)

Into his third decade as a professional what hasn’t changed for Shiv Shankar Prasad Chawrasia is how unflappable he stays ahead of a major competition.

That is how it was one day before he leaves for New Delhi eyeing an unprecedented hattrick of Hero Indian Open titles. “Well, what is the worst that can happen? I will not do well, right?” he said, breaking into a smile while talking to reporters after practice at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) on Saturday.

READ | Shubhankar Sharma, Anirban Lahiri to take part in Indian Open golf

This, ahead of heading into a city which has helped pay most of his bills could seem surprising but then that is how Chawrasia is.

“Look, there will be bad days but what helps is that I don’t remember much. Over the years, that has worked to my advantage because the negatives don’t stay with me,” said Chawrasia who turns 40 on May 15. Like the past two years, Chawrasia goes into the 54th edition, to be played over the DLF Golf and Country Club course from March 8-11, on the back of some ordinary showing so it is just as well that he is the way he is.

He doesn’t make much of the three missed cuts before the Indian Open, saying that so long as he keeps up his attacking style, results will follow.

“I am not too worried. At this level, it is all in the mind. The skill sets are almost the same. Look at Subhankar (Sharma); he went to Mexico having missed two successive cuts and has taken his game to a different level. What he is doing is great for the country,” said Chawrasia. Playing the World Golf Championship in Mexico, Sharma is sole leader after two rounds.

READ | Indian Open golf: Anirban Lahiri, SSP Chawrasia among top stars

But you couldn’t be further off the greens if this sounds like Chawrasia is taking things lightly. True, he said he hasn’t scanned the field for this European and Asian Tour sanctioned event --- “I never do but I do know that every year, the field is getting stronger,” he said --- and that he “isn’t doing anything special” but Chawrasia said he is practising hard. And he has skipped one tournament in New Zealand to stay fresh for this.

“My confidence is good and I am happy with my putting and driving. The fact that I know the course and won the Indian Open in successive years on different courses (it was held at the Delhi Golf Club in 2016) serves as good memories. As is the experience of having been around longer,” he said, citing the examples of Phil Mickleson, 47, and Miguel Angel Jiminez, 54.

Through the conversation, one got the feeling that there is almost nothing that sours Chawrasia’s sunny disposition. Almost. “The lack of public courses is something that bothers me. Trust me, if India had public courses, in the next five years there would be 10 new players going abroad for tournaments every year,” he said.

READ | Golfer SSP Chawrasia left high and dry by Indian Olympic Association

The SSP Foundation

Having grown up in tough circumstances, Chawrasia said he is now keen on giving back. The SSP Chawrasia Foundation will be set going this year, he said.

“We will start with 10 boys whose golfing and education we will take care of. I have been fortunate to have not gone astray but there are many around the RCGC whose potential was killed by drugs or alcohol,” he said.