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Shiv Kapur set for pro debut
August 18, 2004 21:29 IST
Shiv Kapur, Asia's latest golfing hope, will make a much-anticipated professional debut at the Tianjin TEDA Open Presented by Rolls-Royce on Thursday.
The 22-year-old Indian enjoyed a stellar amateur career which was highlighted by his gold medal-winning feat in the Asian Games in 2002. After graduating from Purdue University last month where he was a two-time All-American, Kapur took the plunge into the play for pay ranks.
"I'm feeling very excited. I reckon I will be nervous when I tee up on Thursday as I've been waiting for a long time to turn pro," said Kapur, ahead of the US$200,000 Asian Tour event.
Kapur believes the Asian Tour is the perfect platform for him to cut his professional teeth before he takes his game abroad.
"I made a decision to start here as I know the Asian Tour is a good tour and playing in the region will give me the opportunity to be based at home in New Delhi.
"My plan is to have one full year in Asia before I give the US PGA Tour a shot. I'm ready to tackle pro golf and playing college golf in America has certainly helped as it taught me some very good work ethics.
"To play on the US PGA Tour is my ultimate goal but I'm in no hurry. I've set myself a three-year timeline and feel I can win over there. But I want to succeed first on the Asian Tour and I will stay in the present and concentrate on what I need to do," said Kapur.
Compatriot Amandeep Johl, an old hand in Asia, believes Kapur has what it takes to make his presence felt in the pro ranks and eventually join Arjun Atwal in America.
"He is technically very sound and has a good mind. He has proven himself as an amateur and is certainly India's future hope," said Johl.
Kapur will line-up against a strong cast in Tianjin. Thailand's Thammanoon Srirot, winner here when the event was last staged in 1999, is feeling some good vibes again.
"Five years is a long time but I do remember my win here. It was nice to see the club framing and displaying the caddie bib with my name on it from my win," said the Thai today.
"I like playing on this golf course as it requires accuracy from off the tee. The fairways are narrow and with the rough up this week, straight driving will be a premium. I'm hitting my driver well and I've got new irons in my bag. I'm feeling good about my chances this week," said Thammanoon.
Korea's Kang Wook-soon, a two-time Asian number one and winner of a record seven titles, is another player eager to shine in China, which is one of the few countries he has yet to conquer. In his last trip to the Middle Kingdom, he finished third in Beijing.
"I'm swinging the club well and hope to feature on the leaderboard," said Kang. "I've never won in China previously but came close during my last visit. Hopefully, I can play into contention at the weekend."
Other top Asian Tour names in the fray include Scotsman Simon Yates, currently third on the Order of Merit, Thailand's Boonchu Ruangkit and 10th-ranked Mardan Mamat of Singapore. Indian rookie Rahil Gangjee, who triumphed in the Volkswagen Masters in Beijing in May, will also be looking to renew his love-affair with the country.
The Chinese challenge will be led by the upcoming Li Chao, a former three time national amateur champion.
The Tianjin TEDA Open Presented by Rolls-Royce is the 13th leg of the Asian Tour.