Q & As WITH THE DELHI HEROES
SSP Chowrasia came away from the Indian Masters with unexpected triumph. Here is what he and runner-up Damien McGrane had to say:
India’s SSP Chowrasia stepped up to the plate at the Indian Masters on Sunday for an unexpected triumph that upstaged the stars of Europe and left the cream of Indian golf in shock
And to some extent Ireland’s Damien McGrane, the runner up, pulled off a similar kind of surprise
Here is the full text of the interviews conducted with them by the media after the dust had settled.
QUESTION: A great win SSP for you here at the Emaar-MGF Indian Masters, but tell us what is going through your mind right now.
CHOWRASIA: Right now my mind is totally blocked because I’m not able to think anything right now.
QUESTION: You’ve shot rounds of 70-71-71 and a strong 67 in your final round, so what has been the key for you this week?
CHOWRASIA: Normally I don’t show too well in the final round, but whenever I’ve won a tournament I’ve always shot a brilliant last round, usually 5- or 6-under, and I think I played very good golf so I’m very, very happy.
QUESTION: Tell us about your game on the first nine?
CHOWRASIA: I wasn’t thinking too much about the win and all of the scoring out on the front nine because there was still half a round left. In the second half, all I wanted to do was to score pars and to keep it going.
QUESTION: You shot four birdies on the front nine?
CHOWRASIA: I had a birdie on the first and then on the third I had a chip-in and another birdie at the fourth, and at that point I felt I could go way ahead and I felt I would go a long distance from here.
QUESTION: What was going on in your mind in the final hole, because you had a bit of a mishap there.
CHOWRASIA: I was quite tense when I came to the 18th, but more than coming on to the green I was more tense at the tee because there were a few people walking across. And I took my time on the tee shot, and after the tee shot I was much more relieved and I was much more relaxed.
QUESTION: What is the secret of your smile? Even when you bogey, you still smile; what’s the secret?
CHOWRASIA: Well, it’s not a secret. Well, I just try and enjoy my golf because golf is all a mind game. So I just try to keep myself came and try to enjoy myself when I play golf.
QUESTION: What will you do now and where will you play?
CHOWRASIA: I have a card now for the next three years until 2010. I was just officially told by The European Tour that I have a card until 2010. I will be playing both in Asia and in Europe, but I will probably be playing more in Europe.
QUESTION: How is golf here?
CHOWRASIA: Golf is now very much a rival profession in India because there’s a lot of money even in domestic golf and if somebody takes it up seriously, I think people can make a living out of it.
QUESTION: What will you do with the prize money
CHOWRASIA: Well, I haven’t thought about it and I really don’t know what I’m going to do with such a lot of money, but let me see after this.
QUESTION: You played your first round a bit defensively, but watching in the end, did you have a lot of confidence to play the way you did?
CHOWRASIA: Well, I did not think too far ahead when I started, but I had a plan in my mind that was not to give away too many shots in terms of birdies, but to stick to pars and the birdies would come along anyway.
QUESTION: In 1999 you finished second to Arjun Atwal and you played with him, and you played with him again when you won this; and in these ten long years, how has this journey been?
CHOWRASIA: Well, I didn’t think that I would go so far, but at that point when I finished second, it seemed like kind of a fluke. But now in these ten years I’ve worked on various aspects of my game and also worked on my physical aspects and become much stronger.
QUESTION: How will this win inspire caddies?
CHOWRASIA: More and more caddies will now take up the game and they will also feel that they can also do well if they start playing and working at it.
QUESTION: Do you feel that in the last ten years that the influence of the caddie process has actually gone down and the influence of other pros has gone up?
CHOWRASIA: I feel that the influence of caddie process is not enough and it is very expensive to go out and play which is why I feel that sometimes the caddies don’t go and play. Maybe they need more support.
QUESTION: Do you feel that after playing like this, all of the hesitation you have of playing good players like Ernie Els and other top players, this will help you to get over that, and will the other players also get over this?
CHOWRASIA: Now I feel more confident playing with them, and I feel now I can stand up against the best in the world; and I’m now going to work on all my weak points even more.
QUESTION: This course is suited to you and you were one of the players who could have actually started out as a contender, but it was a question to coming to believe in yourself that you could win this tournament; how did you control yourself and keep up with this belief?
CHOWRASIA: This golf course does suit me and I’ve always wanted to win a big tournament here, but I never even imagined that I would win such a huge tournament on this golf course. I’ve actually never played as an amateur, I came in directly and became a pro.
QUESTION: Do you remember the first hotel you went to or where you played?
CHOWRASIA: The first time I went out of home to play a golf tournament was in a city called Pune (ph) which is not very far from Calcutta and I was still very hesitant and I was still very scared because that was the first time I was leaving home, and I overcame all those feelings to go out and play.
QUESTION: You’ve been playing on the Asian Tour for the last two or three years, but to win your first tournament in a European event, and in the past you’ve come close to winning on the Asian Tour, how does it feel to win straightaway in Europe?
CHOWRASIA: My feeling has been very good. I felt very good about winning here. It was a bigger struggle to get on to the Asian Tour from the Indian Tour, and now I’m directly on the European tire. So the struggle came initially and now it’s going to be fairly okay. First I want to play on The European Tour and do well, and then my target is to get on to the U.S. Tour.
QUESTION: How was it to play with Arjun? There must have been a lot of banter and camaraderie between the two of you; how did it help you?
CHOWRASIA: Well, I have played with Arjun in the past, also, and it was very nice to play with him, and there was no tension at all. We kept talking to each other, so I felt good to play with him.
QUESTION: Jeev Milkha Singh has won two European Tour events and Arjun Atwal has won two European Tour events; this becomes the fifth European Tour event win for an Indian. When you were on the 18th green, what were your feelings, because the 18th hole has not been a very good hole for
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