Shiv Kapur manages to get the most out of his wrecked body - Hindustan Times
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Shiv Kapur manages to get the most out of his wrecked body

ByJoy Chakravarty, Muscat
Feb 23, 2024 09:36 PM IST

The 42-year-old, who shifted residence to Dubai, learned his lessons the hard way and from November last year, he did not touch his golf clubs for 40 days

Shiv Kapur is hoping his struggles for the past couple of years with injuries are finally over. A two-under par 70 in the opening round of the $2 million International Series Oman, which included a late double bogey with what he said was the only bad swing of the day, fills him with plenty of confidence and optimism for 2024.

Shiv Kapur of India
Shiv Kapur of India

It all started with an ankle issue in his right foot, and then he had to deal with the dreaded condition for any athlete – plantar fasciitis – in the same foot. Just when that seemed to be getting better, he fractured his right rib, apparently because he wasn’t using his lower body properly. As the rib healed and he started practicing again, he started overcompensating subconsciously and his right shoulder gave way.

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“If I split my body into two, I’ve got a perfectly working left side and I have a very damaged right side,” said the four-time champion on the Asian Tour.

“But the problem I was having last year was that I was getting too eager to come back and not giving it the required time to heal. I was compensating in my swing and getting into bad habits. That puts you in a deeper hole and you start thinking there's something wrong with your game.”

Like a well-made automatic watch, the golf swing is a series of precise movements of body parts. The slightest of disruptions – and we are talking fractions of a millimetre here – could lead to wild fluctuations from the desired result.

The 42-year-old, who shifted residence to Dubai recently, learned his lessons the hard way and from the middle of November last year, he did not touch his golf clubs for 40 days.

“It’s just one of those things. I have to live with it. The pain is manageable now. I think I have given it enough time to heal, even though it’s not healed completely. I’d say I am 80 per cent there, whereas I was probably 50 per cent there when I was trying to make my comebacks last year,” said Kapur.

“The good thing is, it’s not impeding my practice and I am able to do a regular load of practice. Last year, I was hitting 30-40 balls and trying to go and play tournaments. Now I’m putting a full day of and getting to hit 300 odd balls and playing 18 holes. I’m going to the gym and doing everything that I can.

“I’m not thinking too much about the body. Now it’s just about getting tournament rounds and in getting into a competitive situation, getting in, or near, the lead where you know, you get the juices flowing again, which is a nice feeling.”

Asked about his opening round at Al Mouj Golf Club, Kapur said it was “almost good”.

That description seemed apt as he put together a superb round in the windy Muscat layout with 14 out of 18 greens in regulation and 12 out of 14 fairways found off the tee. But that also included a pulled tee shot into the hazard on the 17th, his penultimate round of the day, that led to the double.

“I am obviously a bit rusty because I haven’t played a competitive round for a long time. My first 18 holes walking was here on Tuesday as I have been using carts back in Dubai. So, if I take all that into consideration, I guess I have got to be happy with the start,” said Kapur.

“I’d say I played 17-and-a-half flawless holes and made one bad swing on the 17th. That kind of cost me, but overall, I’m going to look at the positives. I played really good, error-free golf for 17 holes and gave myself a lot of chances. I’m actually just pleased to be back playing and competing, and that round showed I did the right work coming here.”

The errant drive on 17th happened because Kapur, 4-under at that stage, tried to be aggressive.

“Because I have to be careful with my shoulder, I’d say I am about 10 per cent shorter than I was. An obvious tendency at times is to want to go at it hard, but I have to curb myself. The 17th is probably one of those examples where it’s like trying to go back to normal speed,” he explained.

“I’m hitting my irons probably about half a club shorter than before. I’ve had to recalibrate all my distances. However, I did spend a lot of time working on my short game and that feels sharp. When I wasn’t hitting full shots, I spent a lot of time chipping and putting and my wedges, because that’s what gets you out of trouble. So, trying to get my defences good.

“But yes. This round was a great confidence booster. I hit 68 good shots and one bad. I now need to put together more similar rounds at a stretch. But this is a good start.”

Among the other Indians, Yuvraj Singh Sandhu was the best placed as he matched Kapur and started with a 2-under par 70. Manav Shah, an American of Indian origin, posted a 67 and was tied fourth.

Spain’s LIV Golf star David Puig started his campaign in Oman in much the same way as he finished in Malaysia last week, when successive weekend rounds of 62 helped him win. A 7-under par 65 gave him the lead, with playing partner Joaquin Niemann, who received his Masters invite this week, close behind at 5-under par 67.

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