Anirban on course at RCGC on Monday. Pictures: Pabitra Das
Back in Calcutta after “almost two years”, the 25-year-old Bong boy from Bangalore chatted with t2 at RCGC, in the warm-up to the McLeod Russel Championship Tour.
What do you have to say about the McLeod Russel Tour Championship putting Calcutta back on the golfing map?
I think Calcutta historically was a centre, and I say was because in the last three-four years it hasn’t produced any young golfer that has burst out onto the scene. It has always had the Arjun Atwals, Rahil Gangjees, S.S.P. (Chowrasia), Feroze (Ali)… all the big tournament winners. But over the last few years, the talent has sort of dried up. I wouldn’t say there’s no potential; there are a lot of kids out here and two great golf courses. Now an event like this is going to help that fire rekindle, get more youngsters here. I’m hoping on Friday-Saturday, more kids will come and watch and all the golfers and members get their kids and friend’s kids here. That’s something that has happened a lot in Bangalore over the last five-eight years and now you see so many young juniors, amateurs coming out of there. I hope to see more and more talent breaking into the larger scene. That’s a process that needs to be restarted and an event like this is just what the city needs to make it happen.
What has been your best shot this year?
I have to think about this one, one second (pauses). It’ll probably have to be my tee shot at the SAIL-Open in the play-off, where I won the play-off eventually. I had to go first and you know because I hit such a good tee shot, it kind of put my opponent under pressure and ended up turning the tournament in my favour.
What’s your strategy on course?
My philosophy has always been to take it one shot at a time. But over the years, I’ve kind of learnt to let go a little bit and kind of enjoy the game as much as I can. So I think my motto now has become to enjoy my golf as much as I can and that helps me play better.
You started playing real early…
Well, I started playing sub-junior golf at the age of 12. So I’ve been playing competitively for nearly 12-13 years now.
You never lost hope in between?
Up till the age of 19, I didn’t think I would turn pro. Then I turned pro at 20! So my motivation to play golf was always to play as well as I can and to represent India. I still feel that needs to be the biggest motivation for a youngster — to represent his country. More and more parents nowadays start forcing the idea of being professional on their kids. That’s not something you can choose at a very early age. So for me personally, that has been my story.
How much has your dad influenced you?
Both my parents have. Dad’s been the one to get me into golf and mom’s been the master administrator behind everything — making sure that my grades are up or my clothes are clean when I leave! I’m the only child and I’m fortunate my parents have supported me through my career.
Who is your golfing idol?
In India, I’ve always looked up to Jeev (Milkha Singh). Someone who’s worked as hard as he and over the years he’s proven that he can stand the test of time and perform under any circumstances. I’ve had the privilege of being friends with him now that I’ve grown up. Whether it’s Jeev, Jyoti (Randhawa), Arjun or any of the other seniors, I’ve always looked up to them and now I’m on a first-name basis with them. It’s fantastic because you get to share their experiences. Jeev has always told me to keep plugging away and keep playing as many events as I can. He’s always told me that he feels that I have the potential to win, in Europe as well. It gives me a lot of confidence that someone like him feels that way and that I must prove him right.
How many holes-in-one have you had?
I’ve had three hole-in-ones in events and two otherwise. The last one was at the British Open this year. The first one was in my first PGTI event in 2007 at the Build Open. And it was at the 71st hole, the second-last hole of the tournament. I was ecstatic; it’s one of the most difficult holes on the golf course. That hole-in-one kind of changed my career because those two shots improved my ranking to a position that allowed me to get a country spot in the Asian Tour. It’s funny how things turn out!
What’s on your iPod now?
A lot of house, a little bit of rock and some soft music. When I play tournaments, I prefer listening to Tiesto, Armin van Buuren and some of the newer artistes, Eric Prydz, Deadmau5 to get me zoned in when I’m playing. I read a little too, some golf-improvement books that have been thrust on me by my dad! But otherwise I like to read fiction just to keep my mind off golf.
What golf fashion brands do you swear by?
I wear Nike golf apparel, I find it comfortable. As far as equipment is concerned, I endorse Dixon, which is a leading Japanese brand.
The word you mentally say when you miss a shot but can’t say aloud!
Er, ‘relax’? (Laughs out loud)
Finally, you’re already rich. Are you single too?
(Laughs) I do have a girlfriend but golf is my first girlfriend! I’m just 25 and I have a lot of goals to achieve before I settle down.
• Born? June 29, 1987
• Height? 6ft 1inch
• Lives in? Bangalore
• Total wins? Nine
• Got the PGTI Order of Merit in 2009
• Won the SAIL-SBI Open this year, his second Asian Tour title
• First Indian to register a hole-in-one in a Major championship (British Open this year)
• The best Asian golfer at the 141st Open Championships this year, tied 31st
• Favourite actor? Aamir Khan
• A Twi-hard? Not into pale vampire guys!
• Last movie he saw? Madagascar 3
• Most extravagant spend? A Bose home theatre system for his Bangalore apartment
• First cheque? Rs 12,000, on July 1, 2005, from Gati
• When he’s not golfing? He’s sleeping!
Karo Christine Kumar
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