CHENNAI:The 115th US Open golf championship in Washington from June 18-21 will be notable from an Indian perspective. After seven years, two of them will take part in a Major. The class of Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa achieved this four times. This will be the first ‘double’ involving Gen Now.
Striding towards establishing himself as India’s best golfer ever, Anirban Lahiri is there by virtue of featuring in the top 60 (43) and makes it four Majors in a row. Ranked 314 in the world, Shiv Kapur makes the cut from qualifiers for a second US Open. He was tied 23rd last year at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina — India’s best at the event. Among Indians, only Jeev has done better at a Major.
Hours before teeing off at the Irish Open in Northern Ireland, Kapur told Express via email he was looking forward to playing with Lahiri and hoping to use the experience of handling challenges expected at biggest events. “What Anirban has achieved in the last 12 months is incredible. It’s put India on the world map and I expect him to become the flag-bearer of Indian golf. It’ll be great to have him there. We get along well and play most practice rounds together. It’ll be helpful to exchange views and discuss strategy.”
Kapur was ranked 143 at the end of 2013 and Lahiri 111. Playing mostly in Europe, Kapur managed seven top-20 finishes in 28 events after the 2014 US Open, with a best of eighth in an Asian Tour event. Having said playing as many Majors as possible is one of his dreams, he is making it a third in as many years. Leader on Day 1 of the 2013 Open Championship before tying for 73rd, he had another memorable outing last year by standing out among the top.
“Playing Majors has been a boyhood dream and having tasted moderate success in the last two, it’s a dream come true,” Kapur admitted. On the difference in him of last year and now, the player who also took part in the 2006 British Open (first Major, missing cut) said, “Perhaps a little more experienced in playing Majors and the challenges that one faces in those compared to every other week on Tour. And a belief that if I play to potential, I can compete with the best in the world.”
The 33-year-old from Delhi will be in elite company, including World No 1, 2 and 3 Rory McIlroy, Jordan Speith and Henrik Stenson, apart from Tiger Woods. “In my first Major I was like a kid in a candy store. You tend to get overwhelmed by the situation, but once you get comfortable, you’ve to treat it as just another tournament and go about it with the same approach and play each hole on merit and not the fact it’s a US or British Open.”
On learning from top pros, he said, “It’s their ability to hang tough and bounce back and that it isn’t necessarily always smooth sailing even for the best. The difference between No 1 and 100 is usually just a shot a round and that’s usually mental.”
Hosting the first US Open in Washington, the course at Chambers Bay needs getting accustomed to. “I’m going to the US in advance to get acclimatised and play a few past US Open courses.” Then Kapur wants to focus on “playing the best golf you can.” After that, “rankings and everything else will take care of themselves.”