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Rediff.com  » Sports » Wannabe golfer beats Tiger Woods and Co!

Wannabe golfer beats Tiger Woods and Co!

August 09, 2006 13:54 IST

He doesn't claim to be a great golfer. In fact, he doesn't even claim to be any kind of golfer. He has, he says, only played around 25 rounds in his entire life, and has never broken 100.

"My best score is either a 105 or a 106, I don't even know for sure -- obviously, I am not that good," Sanjay Kuttemperoor told Rediff India Abroad.

Yet, he now ranks ahead of the all time greats like Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Ernie Elfs and their ilk, thanks to one singular achievement. On June 24, he made two holes-in-one in a five-hole span at Treetops Resort in Treetops Village, Michigan, using a Callaway 8-iron on both shots.

Why is that a big deal? Because Lloyd's of London, a company that among other things supplies hole-in-one insurance, sets the odds against such an occurrence at 67 million to one.

Based on those odds, a golfer would have to play one round of golf every day, 365 days a year, for 183,561 years in order to be sure of accomplishing the feat.

The odds in favour of pigs flying are considerably better.

The 38-year-old Kuttemperoor, whose family is one of the largest real estate developers in the US, managed the feat in 35 minutes. And he is quick to give credit where it belongs -- on sheer blind luck. "I can't take too much credit," he said.

Please take all the credit coming to you, said the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, whose reporter was moved to rhapsodize. 'Golf is a crazy game, and sometimes, being in the right place at the right time is good enough. On those rare occasions, the stars align and good karma flows, and Lady Luck sprinkles pixie dust on your golf ball.'

Kuttemperoor's partner was bemused. Rick Smith is no mean golfer; he has coached the likes of Vijay Singh, Lee Janzen and Jerry Kelly. 'I've never seen anything like it in my whole life,' Smith was moved to comment.

Kuttemperoor started playing golf only recently -- and that too because of business reasons. His family-owned company, VK Development, is creating a master-planned community in Naples, Florida, that includes a Tournament Players Course called Treviso Bay.

"It is a billion dollar project," his father Vincent Kuttemperoor said, pointing out that there are very few such across the United States.

That was how Kuttemperoor met Smith, who is managing partner of Treetops. Smith invited him to be his guest for the pro-am before the ING Par-3 Shootout in June, which featured top names like Fred Couples, Chris DiMarco, Craig Stadler and Andy North.

Smith gave him a few tips, and then Kuttemperoor began to play. He hit an 8-iron, using a Callaway golf ball, on the fifth hole. 'I hit a solid shot and didn't see it go in the hole, because the pin was right over a ridge,' he told ESPN's Charlie Rymer during an interview.

'Rick looked at me and said, I think that went in the hole! I ran down the hill and my ball was in the hole!' Kuttemperoor said. 'I couldn't believe it.'

His credulity, already strained, was due to be stretched to breaking point. On the ninth hole, Kuttemperoor pulled out his 8-iron again, this time using a Titleist golf ball. He pushed his shot right, and the ball hit a tree near the green.

Smith told Kuttemperoor he thought he saw the ball headed toward the pin, but when they got up to the green, Kuttemperoor first looked in the rough for his ball.

"Sure enough, when I finally strolled to the green and looked in the hole, there it was," Kuttemperoor said.

His tone was matter of fact -- probably because when something of the kind happens, there really is no other way to be; you acknowledge the miracle, you file it away in the bragging rights section.

Vincent Kuttemperoor, a professor of mathematics, physics and nuclear engineering, started V K Development Corporation in 1978 -- and that was a story right there.

It was shortly after his marriage, and he and his bride were looking to buy a house. They looked everywhere, but couldn't find the home of their dreamsĀ -- so they built one instead.

Inspired, the senior Kuttemperoor chucked his various interests and became a builder. Since then, the company has built thousands of homes and commercial buildings, and lately has moved to Florida.

Treetops is a six-time recipient of Golf Magazine's 'Silver Medal Resort' award, and is rated No 32 in America's Top 75 Golf Resorts by Golf Digest.

Meanwhile, Sanjay Kuttemperoor is still revelling in the aftermath of his feat.

"A lot of my avid golfer friends are happy for me, but they shake their heads in disbelief. Everyone says I should stop playing now, because it's all downhill from here."

Kuttemperoor knows where they are coming from, but reckons he can't quit golf just yet. He may have made successive holes-in-one, but "I still haven't made a birdie."

George Joseph