Kapur eyes elusive home win in SAIL-SBI Open

Shiv Kapur will seek a first professional victory at his home course, the Delhi Golf Club when he tees up in the SAIL-SBI Open.

Shiv Kapur

Kapur learned the game at the venerable Delhi course when he was a young boy before going on to become one of the country's leading golfers where he has won once on the Asian Tour. The 31-year-old is presently in fine form, winning twice at home over the past three months but it is a victory at the US$300,000 SAIL-SBI Open that he is after this week.

"When I was a boy, we had a car sticker that said "DGC - my second home" but it really is my first home," said Kapur, whose lone Asian Tour title came in 2005.

"I remember the days when I was eight or 10 years old and trying to get through the crowds to get a peek at the players. Now, I'm one of them. I've never won as a pro on this golf course and I hope to win here. I like to think my chances are good as I kind of know every blade of grass on the golf course and know the lines to take from off the tees.

"It's nice to be playing here as it is a magical place for me," added Kapur, who finished eighth on the Asian Tour's Order of Merit last season.

Kapur will face a strong field which includes title holder Anirban Lahiri of India, 2009 champion Chapchai Nirat of Thailand, home favourites Gaganjeet Bhullar and Jyoti Randhawa, American Jonathan Moore and DGC specialist Rikard Karlberg of Sweden, who won twice in India in 2010.

Current Asian Tour number one Chawalit Plaphol of Thailand, who won the season-opening Zaykabar Myanmar Open, is also in the elite field at the SAIL-SBI Open, which is part of the Asian Tour's milestone 10th season celebration this year.

"This is certainly one of our strongest fields ever," said Kapur of the sixth edition of the tournament. "But I do think we'll get an Indian winner this week. Hopefully it will be me but I know I can't be pushing too hard as I have often come in my own way in the past to get that win."

Lahiri will make his first start of the year after skipping the Myanmar event two weeks ago. Time off with his family and friends at home have recharged his batteries after a successful 2012 campaign and the 25-year-old is looking forward to retain his title.

"I played in a few fun events at home earlier in the year but it's fun to get back into the serious tournaments," said Lahiri.

Previously, Lahiri found the demanding Delhi course too difficult to handle due to its dense jungle which lines the fairways but the young Indian has now won twice at the venue. "I feel comfortable now and I've had two wins and two top-10s in my last four starts on this course. You need to rein yourself in here and play within yourself and stick to the game plan. The driver will be out of the bag for sure," he said.

The 29-year-old Chapchai hopes to end his winless drought which stretches back to the 2009 SAIL-SBI Open where he established a world record over 72 holes with his 32-under-par 256 winning aggregate at the Classic Golf Resort.

"I still remember that win clearly, as if it was yesterday. I probably played my best golf ever but it was a different course than this week. I feel confident about the year ahead as I've been playing some good golf since the end of last year.

"I finished top-10 in a local event and in Myanmar in my last two starts and hopefully I can contend this week as I've not won an Asian Tour title since 2009," said Chapchai.

The Thai, nicknamed "King Kong" by his peers due to his big-hitting game, has quickened his putting routine in hope of ending his winless run. "I was thinking too much over my putts and Boonchu's (Ruangkit) caddie told me to shorten my routine. I can hit 16 or 17 greens in regulation but I was taking too many putts. Now, I just take dead aim, line up the putt and make the stroke. It seems to be getting better," said Chapchai.

The main sponsors of the SAIL-SBI Open are the Steel Authority of India Ltd, State Bank of India Ltd and Incredible India, Ministry of Tourism.



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