Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Golfers are like Diamonds in this country. A rare commodity. So, in a land where professional golf has no moorings, where only a couple of Indians have won tournaments outside the borders, when somebody wins a tournament abroad, it’s great news. But when somebody equals a world record, then it’s really a stunning achievement. But 22 year old Chennaiite, Sandeep Syal does not think too much of his record of equaling eight consecutive birdies during a tournament last week in Chennai. “It’s a nice feeling, though I never really thought about it when I shot the birdies,” Syal brushes away. That record helped Syal to finish third in that tournament. Got hooked to the sport as a nine year old on the greens of the Kodaikanal Golf Club, Syal’s journey, thirteen years later, as the latest player in the world of competitive golf has reached the crossroads. “As a junior, I had played in the junior Asia Pacific tournaments and for the Ohio State University where I studied my management degree,” informs Syal. That experience then comes handy for him, now as a professional on the Professional Golf Association of India(PGAI) circuit.

The fast changing golfing scenario in Chennai is also one of his reasons to turn pro. “In the last ten years, Golf in Chennai has grown a lot,” says Syal. “With over 20 events spread across the country, the PGAI tour gives the much needed competition, as I get to play with the top pros of the country,” he feels. In a sport so desperately cruel, where a swing a few millimeters crooked, mean a shot gone awry, a tournament lost, Syal has the talent to go far and the world record is a proof of his uncommon resolve. When he plays, his swing is an act of beauty, his putting very sure. “But all this can change in just one bad round, or one bad shot. You will be choked by the fury of your own imperfection. But the sport demands that you forget and move on,” explains Syal. He is moving on, practicing hard to make it big at the Asian PGA tournament that is happening January next. “That will be my first cut. All my peers like Jeev Milka Singh, Jyoti Randhawa and Arjun Atwal went to Europe only after succeeding in the Asian PGA level,” says Syal who admires Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh. “Tiger is a phenom, and they do not happen every year. He is more like the Tendulkar of cricket,” he says. For Syal who feels Chennai could do with a couple of public courses, since the available two are open only to members of the clubs which own the courses, the Delhi course has proved the biggest challenge so far. “The fairways are narrow, and one miss and you are in the jungle,” feels Syal.

Contrary to what a commoner may think of the sport and the fitness levels the sport demands, Syal informs that one needs to be physically as well as mentally strong to be at the top of the sport. “I have lost over 12 kgs over the last year,” he reveals. Swimming and hitting balls on the course are his ways to keep fit and he practices for 4 hours every day.

But the mental game is tougher. Of all the sport, it is the most solitary, a lonely expedition of 18 holes, each shot an examination of character, for you play not an opponent, you play against yourself. And against a course, inanimate grass and trees to you, but with its water, wind, sand, rough, for the golfer it is alive, a beast that is forever challenging. Listen to Syal. “You play your desire, your mind. It’s fantastic,” and it is now very clear that he is hooked to the sport.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home