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Swingin’ it for a Royal Saturday

DAY THREE DIARY

BRANDON DE SOUZA

The McLeod Russel Tour Championship (Nov 28-Dec 1) is the biggest golf show to come to town in years, with 63 pros vying for Rs 1.25 crore prize money at RCGC. Brandon plays on, only for Metro...

Golf and investment

Golf is fun but the more serious side of the game is how it changes your life. This year’s No. 1 player on the domestic PGTI circuit will make more than Rs 50 lakh. You don’t want to be flipping away your hard-earned money. The priorities for many professionals I spoke to were a) owning a property b) flying rather than travelling by train c) improving daily mode of transport, like graduating from a motorbike to a car.

Overwhelmingly, for those coming from less fortunate backgrounds, the priority was to ensure literacy among their family members, so they had a better chance to get ahead.

There are countless incidents of players losing a season because of injury. Shiva Ram Shrestha, the No. 1 player from Nepal, had a leg injury after a motorcycle accident last year, S.S.P. Chowrasia hurt himself on one of his visits home some years ago. Even Jyoti Randhawa, who like Mahendra Singh Dhoni, is a motorbike freak, has had many a wheel-in-one!

And everyone knows the tragic story of S. Madiah, one of our top 10 players, who died in a bike accident in Bangalore.

SUPPORT SYSTEM: Jyoti Randhawa (right) with brother Bunty, who is playing caddie for him, at RCGC on Friday. Picture by Pabitra Das

C for caddie

American pro golfer Fred Couples once said about his caddie, “I wear deo and we’re both protected”. That’s how close a good golfer is to his caddie! For an amateur, a caddie is his sounding board, always at fault for a bad shot. The caddie gave him the wrong club or line, spoke at the wrong time or stood in the wrong place.

For a pro, on the other hand, a caddie is his support system. Case in point? Jyoti’s caddie at this tournament is his brother Bunty Randhawa. “A good caddie helps make the right call and eases you into your comfort zone,” agreed Bunty, just as he finished the 18th hole on Friday.

There are ways indignant caddies get even too! The best-known joke is a golfer asking his Man Friday if he would get home with a 5-iron. “The way you’re going sir, eventually.”

And who says caddies don’t get paid. The guy who carried Tiger Wood’s bag, Steve Williams, is a millionaire many times over!

Head down

Keeping your head down has never been more important for a pro golfer at The Royal this week. Spotted at one of the holes was a snake. The administration says, “Don’t worry sir, they’re all water-borne.” Can't see any of us stopping to ask the snake!

Talking about the course, the overwhelming reaction has been that you have to take out every club from your bag and play every shot in the book. Like the snake, the course is baring its fangs! But hang in there because…

…Monica Lewinsky was at the Royal!

She was seen twice on the golf course today. With Shamim Khan almost holing out on the 13th, and Abhijit Chadha who almost got an eagle on the 18th. Unfortunately, they both “lipped” out! [All lips and no hole, silly.]

The belly putter

Too much is being made of banning any club when used anchored to the body. My concern is what happens when parts of the anatomy not visible are also tied up! “From 2016, what they’re doing is banning the long club when anchored to the body,” says pro Digvijay Singh, who uses a belly putter.

This would not have come into focus if there had not been astounding results by some of the top players on the PGA Tour like Adam Scott. My argument is that if all advertising promises of using a particular brand of shoes, gloves, balls, eyewear and clubs were true, the human body would now be programmed to hitting the golf ball 600 yards i.e. chipping back on to most greens!

The truth is that for the industry to grow, there has to be technological development, which is why now we don’t need to use hickory shafts, persimmon heads and a golf ball 1.62 in diameter instead of the current 1.68. Will this new law mean other advances will also be curtailed? This writer doesn’t think so.

My dark horse

The third day of any tournament is when the pros make their move. On the morrow, if you’re a movie fan, you might want to back M. Dharma or Mithun, in this case, Perera. SSP has continued to keep it spicy for the local fans as he’s still in the mix, 4 strokes behind.

For me, the dark horse for the race still remains Mukesh Kumar with his wealth of experience. Shamim Khan will become the No. 1 on the order of merit as long as he finishes in the top 5 and is the current worthy leader at minus-9, three ahead of the chasing pack behind him.

Whoever gets off the block on Saturday the quickest, will be the one to watch. But regardless there is a treat for the golfing fraternity of Calcutta.

Look forward to seeing all of you at the RCGC.