Definite buzz about Indian golf in Europe: Chowrasia (Interview)

June 11th, 2008 - 1:37 pm ICT by IANS  

By V. Krishnaswamy
Kolkata, June 11 (IANS) There is a definite buzz about Indian golf in Europe, feels S.S.P. Chowrasia, while referring to the spate of Indian successes on the European Tour this year. It was Chowrasia himself who set the ball rolling with his stunning victory at the Emaar-MGF Indian Masters this February. “But since then, Arjun’s (Atwal) win in Malaysia, Jeev’s (Milkha Singh) second places in Indonesia and Korea and now this win in Austria has made everyone realise that India is a major force in European golf.

“We have had lots of top-10 finishes from both Jyoti Randhawa and Shiv Kapur also,” points out Chowrasia, who himself has generated a lot of interest in Europe.

“Jeev had been close to winning so many times this year and I am not surprised that he did this week,” said Chowrasia. “But I am a little disappointed at not having been there. My visa ran out and I had come to back or else I would have been there to see the win.”

Though Chowrasia had come close to wins on the Asian Tour before, the win in a joint-sanctioned event in February helped him seal sponsorship deals with Crompton Greaves and now with Panceltica, a Qatar-based company which is a leader in fast track construction. Chowrasia and Jeev Milkha Singh were snapped up by the company at the same time.

“Anytime you get a sponsorship it is also a recognition of sorts. And for me to get that alongside Jeev is indeed a big thing,” says the modest Kolkatan, who will soon have a new bag for the upcoming events in Europe.

“It is my first season. In fact I have played only three events. And later this week I leave for Europe again for four more events, all big ones. I will play in Germany, French Open, the European Open and Scottish Open,” added Chowrasia, as he sat in the Royal Calcutta Golf Club, which not only sponsors him, but also made him a member immediately after his win in the Indian Masters.

Right now Chowrasia is focussed on learning about the courses in Europe. “I know I am one of the shortest hitters on the European Tour. I drive to about 270 yards and others are getting there with 3-wood. If I miss the fairway and get into the rough, it is tough to get to the green and make pars,” he says.

“The reason I want to play as many events as possible and make use of my exemption is to ensure that I get to see as many courses. Then I will be able to choose the ones that suit my game.”

Chowrasia by virtue of winning a co-sanctioned event this year has an exemption on both European and Asian Tours till the end of 2010.

On his own form, Chowrasia added: “I am playing well, but am missing the cut by one or two shots. Curiously both Shiv (Kapur) and I are both missing by one ad two shots. But I am not panicking as things will soon sort out.”

About his plans for the rest of the season, Chowrasia said: “I will play mostly on the European Tour, but I also want to play my quota of 10 events on Asian Tour to get a Order of Merit ranking. If I stay in top-3 I will get into a lot of big events like WGC. Of course I also want to try and see if I can get to the Majors like all golfers.”

Chowrasia is making sure that he maintains his physical fitness. “That becomes necessary if I am to play a full season in both Asia and Europe. Also I need to become stronger,” says the diminutive golfer with a laugh.

The week or two that he gets to spend in India is always devoted to the family and as he adds, “I also like to keep in touch with my friends and of course then there is administrative work like getting visas, tickets and hotel booking.”

Balancing his personal life, and the ever increasing demands on his time and playing top class golf is something that Chowrasia will need to get used to more and more as he climbs up the ladder of success.

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