03 July 2019: As the calendar ticked away through June, the excitement was building up for Shiv Kapur. Of course, he had a date with the Andalucia Masters at Valderrama, but it was what lay beyond that had him soaked in hope. The Open is a special aspiration for Shiv, as it is for many in golf, and the Indian reached Edinburgh with great determination. Unfortunately, KLM left his bags stranded in Amsterdam.
Not one to be easily stumped, Shiv set about cobbling together a bag filled with an eclectic selection of clubs. Titleist wedges, Callaway irons and a Ping 3-wood were among the clubs that populated his bag. That and his indefatigable spirit on his shoulders, the 421st ranked Indian set sail to conquer the Fairmont St. Andrews, one of the four venues hosting 288 golfers battling for just 12 spots at the 148th Open Championship.
“I finished my final round in Valderrama and drove 1.30 hrs to the Malaga airport for a flight to Scotland via Amsterdam. On reaching our destination, we drove nearly two hours to get to St Andrews, finally reaching at 0100am,” explained Shiv.
“Needless to say it had been a long day on the course and then the trip to get to Scotland in time for the qualifier. It was extremely disappointing not to have any luggage or the golf bag, on top of that strenuous journey.”
“I must commend the PRO shop staff at the Fairmont st Andrew’s they were all really helpful and all of them pooled in and offered me their clubs,” added Shiv Kapur. “I ended up using a combination of clubs from all of them. A big shout out to all of them.
“I bought some clothes from the PRO shop and golf balls and gloves, which I probably haven’t done since I was a kid :),” said Shiv, embracing a typically humourous tone amidst all the duress. “But it was a chance to play in the Open Championship and I would have tried anything.”
Birdies at the second and fourth got Shiv off to a breezy start. But the wind caught him soon. He sandwiched a birdie at the ninth between bogeys at the seventh and tenth as he tried to force his way into the reckoning.
His fourth birdie of the round secured a 69, good enough for T7 at Fairmont, but still some way from securing one of the twelve spots on offer on the day. But Shiv was playing in a new pair of shoes and they weren’t sitting too well beneath his aching feet.
“It’s hard enough with your own clubs and perfect preparation to qualify for the open championship, so the less than ideal preparation didn’t make it easy, but I was satisfied with a 69 in the opening round which was very breezy and cold and I really struggled to find a driver that I could use,” said Shiv reflecting on his battling round at Fairmont.
“The Course was demanding with the closing stretch on the front playing into a strong sea breeze, so it was all about scrambling and gutting it out,” he added. “In the end it was all a bit too much, but I wasn’t going to sit on the sidelines and not give it a go.”
As the blisters made it increasingly difficult for Shiv to walk the undulating course, he resigned to his fate when he withdrew after playing just three holes in the second round. The dream will have to wait for yet another year, when Shiv will undoubtedly try again to find a spot at the Open for the fourth time in his career.
Airline woes have been bizarrely regular for Indian golfers this season. Shiv has been at the receiving end just a few weeks ago when he reached Munich for the BMW International only to learn that Lufthansa had forgotten to carry his kit. Incidentally, he is yet to receive his bags from KLM.
At the Andalucia Masters in Spain, Shubhankar Sharma had no luggage trouble, but his father Col. Mohan Sharma was without a bag for a couple of days.
Aditi Ashok, India’s lone representative on the LPGA suffered twice in the last twelve months too. She was stranded in France last year when she arrived without her bags on Aer Lingus. And then in March, Aditi reached Phoenix on a British Airways flight, once again empty-handed going into an LPGA event.
Seher Atwal’s dream of participating in the Women’s Amateur in Ireland was left hanging in the balance when Aer Lingus goofed up in Manchester.
Back to Shiv, the embattled warrior can put his feet up for a few days and relax before resuming preparations for the battles later in the season. “I’m now taking a couple of weeks off to go watch the world cup and Wimbledon in London and enjoy a bit of time with my family in London,” said an excited Shiv, an avid fan of cricket and tennis. “I will resume playing next month most likely with the Czech masters and will probably return to playing in Asia mid September.”