Kapur hopes to inspire more Indian Challengers

11/11/2013 10:55:00
Shiv Kapur  (Getty Images)
Shiv Kapur (Getty Images)
Shiv Kapur believes becoming the first Indian to graduate from the Challenge Tour will lead to an increase in the number of his fellow countryman choosing to follow the same path to realise their golfing dreams. 

After winning the season-ending Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final at Al Badia Golf Club, Kapur rocketed to fourth in the Challenge Tour Rankings to reclaim a place on The European Tour next year. 

His two-stroke victory completed a remarkable campaign on the Challenge Tour, which began with his debut win on home soil at the Gujarat Kensville Challenge, in Ahmedabad.         

That triumph, by two shots from Scotland’s Andrew McArthur, put down an early marker and ultimately acted as the springboard for Kapur’s climb to the top tier of European golf. 

He said: “My win at Kensville was very important, in more ways than one. Not only did it help with my belief and confidence, but it also gave my season more focus. If I hadn’t won at Kensville my schedule would have been completely different, and I wouldn’t be in the position I am now.

“My win was very well received by the media over in India, and the general awareness of what the Challenge Tour is and the benefits of joining are now apparent. Having big international events like the Kensville Challenge in India is so important, as it gives great exposure to the young players and gives them the chance to play with some of the foreign stars. 

“I think more players in the future will look towards using the Challenge Tour as a path to gaining a European Tour card as an alternative to the Qualifying School, and hopefully more Indians will follow in my footsteps and look at playing on the Challenge Tour.”

Kapur is equally hopeful of carrying his own form into the new campaign on The European Tour, where he will be joined by his 14 fellow graduates from the Challenge Tour.

The closest Kapur came to securing his maiden victory on the top tier was when he lost out in a play-off to Scotland’s Richie Ramsay at the 2010 South African Open Championship.

That tournament gets The 2014 Race to Dubai under way next week and, while Kapur is yet to plan his full schedule, the 31 year old is aiming to make a fast start and avoid the pitfalls he faced in 2013, when he lost his playing privileges after leaving himself too much ground to make up at the end of the year.

Kapur said: “I played on the main Tour for seven seasons and came close to winning a few times, but never quite managed to get over the line. Winning on any Tour is very difficult and the Challenge Tour has a number of guys who have played and won on The European Tour in the past, so if I can win out there there’s no reason why I can’t translate that to a victory on the European Tour. 

“Becoming the first Indian to graduate from the Challenge Tour is a huge honour. As a young kid from Delhi I dreamed of playing golf, so to be the first player from a country with more than a billion people to graduate from the Challenge Tour and realise my dream is a huge achievement. I will now be able to play in events I only dreamed of playing in, such as the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.”

That Kapur’s dream was realised in fairy-tale fashion made his success taste even sweeter.

Having entered the final week of the season in 20th place in the Rankings, the New Delhi native knew he needed a top five finish to climb into the all-important top 15 and so guarantee graduation to The European Tour. 

However, buoyed by his performance at the Foshan Open Open, where he missed out by a single stroke to Spaniard Nacho Elvira, Kapur’s thoughts were focused solely on one thing: victory.    

He explained: “I had one thought in my mind: not to sound too cocky or arrogant, but I just said to myself to go and win the tournament. Finishing second in China actually gave me a lot of confidence. It’s an old cliché, but it’s true – if you keep knocking on the door, it will eventually open. So that was the attitude I went in with. 

“I knew I was playing well enough, and I didn’t want to look into all the different permutations of where I needed to finish. I just told myself that winning would take care of everything – and it turns out I was right!”