Young Viraj Madappa keen to build on 2018 breakthrough
Since the win at the Take Solutions Masters in August last year, Madappa has been on the road for long stretches and often ended a week without success.
After his breakthrough win on the Asian Tour in Bengaluru last year, Viraj Madappa took time off to visit his extended family in Coorg and Chennai. “It was exhausting, meeting almost 12 families in a short span, but it had to be done,” said India’s youngest winner on the Tour at 20. The man from Kolkata places a lot of stress on relationships as “they (relatives) are the ones who stand by you irrespective of your form on the golf course.” Besides, hailing from a family of achievers, “interacting with them has a lot of life lessons”.
Since the win at the Take Solutions Masters in August last year, Madappa has been on the road for long stretches and often ended a week without success. Amid missed cuts, he kept going with the belief that “golf was about learning the process of shaving off one shot at a time from the scorecard and that family support puts the mind at ease on the golf course.”
The work put in during the off-season has borne fruit as Madappa enters the country’s newest event on the Asian Tour, the $300,000 Classic Golf & Country Club International Championship at this Jack Nicklaus-designed course, on the back of two strong finishes in Indonesia and Chinese Taipei. When the chips are down, a lot of players grind it out at practice to iron out the flaws. For Madappa, following a punishing schedule is a habit. “In the off-season, quite often I end up practicing for 10-12 hours at a stretch as I hate spending time in the room,” he said.
Since turning professional in 2017, the mindset has changed from a rookie looking to make cut week in, week out and secure his playing rights to believing he can compete with the best. But there have been times when the 21-year-old has had his “fan boy moments”.
One was during the Hong Kong Open late last year when he shared the locker room with Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood. Another was soon after the win in Bengaluru. Through the final round of that Sunday at the Karnataka Golf Association, Madappa hadn’t looked at the leaderboard to avoid getting distracted. He did so once he was done and noticed among those he had gone past was SSP Chawrasia, whom he looks up to and practiced many times in his junior days at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club. “I had never beaten him at practice; doing so in a tournament was huge.”
Back in a phase when he believes a win isn’t far off, Madappa stays appreciative of those encounters. “Shadowing the experienced guys always helps; there is so much to learn.”