CHENNAI: After a quiet start to 2017, Indian pros are making their presence felt in the greens and fairways. Players groomed in the domestic circuit are taking part in all major golf tours of the world this year. Slow off the blocks, they are showing signs of getting better.
If SSP Chawrasia's Indian Open triumph was the first major talking point, Shiv Kapur grabbed the spotlight with a win and a tied-second finish in back-to-back events on the Asian Tour last month. And just when Anirban Lahiri's future on the US PGA Tour started looking doubtful, he produced a career-best tied second last week. Add Gaganjeet Bhullar's tied second in the last event he played in Asia, and the second half of the year looks more promising.
Indians have been playing on these Tours for a long time and several memorable moments have been achieved by the likes of Arjun Atwal and Jeev Milkha Singh. But a number of them getting into the top three at events on all major Tours so close to each other is something that hasn't happened often. It shows in their rankings as well, as all four have bettered their position at the start of the year. Lahiri is World No 65 (from 77), Bhullar 160 (169), Chawrasia 183 (214) and Kapur is 305 (718).
“Indians had produced good performances in the past, but new faces making their mark in these events means things are improving. If you notice, the number of Indians getting noticed in these circuits has increased,” Chawrasia told Express on Friday. “Anirban's obviously is a big achievement because it came at the highest level. And someone like Shiv bouncing back (from loss of form and illness) shows there is fire and hunger in our golfers.”
Fighting to prove his mettle on European soil, Chawrasia has started finding his feet. Tied 36, tied 58 and tied 30 in his first three events there after the Indian Open in March doesn't look great, but it's better than last year when he missed cut in most of his appearances in Europe. A better finish was on the cards in the last event, where he missed a top 10, slipping from tied 11th in the third round.
“I'm making mistakes in the last round. There's little time to come back if it happens late in the tournament. It's not pressure because I've been in these situations. I've to be patient and wait for my turn. I should've done better, especially after winning a title, and got more top 10s or top 5s,” said Chawrasia, all four of whose European Tour wins have come in co-sanctioned events held in India.
It's this sense of dissatisfaction at moderate success that distinguishes today's Indian golf pro. In all likelihood, it also explains why their graph is on a slow but steady upward curve.