SSP Chowrasia has targeted another entry into the history books with a second success in the Avantha Masters.
Chowrasia became the first Indian to win a European Tour event on home soil – and only the third, after Arjuna Atwal and Jeev Milkha Singh, to win one anywhere – when he captured the EMAAR-MGF Indian Masters title in 2008.
It was a real rags-to-riches tale for the self-taught 34 year old, who used to sneak onto the course at night to play a few holes at Royal Calcutta Golf Club, where he worked as a caddie and his father was a greenkeeper.
Three years later, thanks chiefly to his razor sharp short game – which earned him the nickname “Chipputtsia” – he repeated the feat in the Avantha Masters, sparking jubilant scenes at DLF Golf & Country Club.
Chowrasia, whose full name is Shiv Shankar Prasad, will now go in search of a hat-trick of European Tour titles when the fourth edition of the €1.8million event takes place from March 14-17 at Jaypee Greens, in Greater Noida, India.
He said: “I’m very excited about playing the Avantha Masters – I’m sure the tournament will be a great success. It’s the one all the Indian players want to win, and hopefully I can come out on top again.
“I’ve played Jaypee Greens many times, so I know what to expect. The fairways are quite wide, so unless the rough is very thick I think the scoring will be quite low. There is also a Golf Academy there which has a great driving range and practice facilities for the amateurs and us pros, so it’s a great venue for the tournament.”
Chowrasia has fond memories of his Avantha Masters triumph in 2011, when he overhauled overnight leader Robert Coles with a round of 67 on the final day to prevail by a single stroke.
Having subsequently finished 80th in The Race to Dubai that season and 97th last year, Chowrasia has since established himself on The European Tour and has now set his sights on securing a place in the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai at the end of the season.
He said: “After my win in 2011, I thought I could do anything. Winning once on The European Tour is one thing; but if you then win again, it shows it wasn’t down to luck the first time. I feel like I’m now a much better player than I was when I won for the first time in 2008. Playing in different conditions on different courses and against better players has definitely improved my game.
“Because of that, my confidence is now much higher than it was before. In my first season on Tour in 2009, I wasn’t ready at all – but not anymore. I’ve played in some very big tournaments this year and down quite well in all of them, especially [finishing tied 17th] in Abu Dhabi. So hopefully this year can be my best yet, and I can make it to Dubai at the end of the season.”
Chowrasia will face a strong international field at Jaypee Greens GC, with European Tour winners Simon Dyson, Søren Kjeldsen, Colin Montgomerie, Thomas Levet and the defending champion Jbe’ Kruger all confirmed in the star-studded line-up.