| Tiger Woods leaves the airport, after his arrival in New Delhi, on Monday. (AFP)
New Delhi: Tiger Woods made a quiet arrival in the capital on Monday evening for a short visit to the country. The world No. 1, who is here on an invitation from a corporate house, is expected to stay till Tuesday evening.
Wearing a white T-shirt, Woods, who came in a private jet, immediately left for Hotel Maurya Sheraton where he has been put up in the Presidential Suite, which has often been used by heads of states, including Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
Strictly on a private visit, Woods will play a mini-match against a select few at the Delhi Golf Club (DGC) on Tuesday.
Among the lucky few who would get a chance to play against the legend are two professional golfers — Anirban Lahiri and Shiv Kapur. The rest would include the chosen guests of the corporate house, which has brought Woods to India.
Though the organisers are keeping Woods’ schedule a secret, sources said the winner of 14 Majors is expected to visit an automobile exhibition in the National Capital Region.
Woods is also expected to officially inaugurate a set of apartments, which have been named after him.
He had received a significant appearance fee for playing in last weekend’s Dubai Desert Classic, in which he finished tied 41st, his worst-ever finish in the event.
Lahiri said he was happy to get a chance to play against Woods. A regular on the Asian Tour, Lahiri is used to playing against top players throughout the season. Having turned professional in 2007, Lahiri already has three Tour titles under his belt.
Yet, the 26-year-old India star feels the couple of hours on Tuesday morning at the DGC would be a big day in his life. “It is not easy to get a chance to challenge a player of Woods’ status. Though it would only be an exhibition match, I am terribly excited to play the world No. 1,” he said.
“It is a great honour for me. I hope it creates some buzz and helps to popularise the game. It will be the first time I will be interacting with Woods,” Lahiri added.
Sources said that trying to keep Woods’ India visit a low-key affair has become the toughest task for the sponsors.
“The corporate house has spent a fortune and would like to get maximum mileage out of it. But Woods has categorically told them to keep the media and other publicity agencies out of this,” an official said.
So much so, the DGC on Monday was seen making elaborate arrangements to make the club out of bounds for outsiders during Woods’ visit. Special passes have been issued even for the members. The invitees have been requested not to seek autographs or photographs with Woods. A temporary grand stand has been constructed for members to sit and watch the legend.
In Dubai, Tiger had said: “Arjun (Atwal) has been asking me to come to India, but somehow it never happened. Now it has. Yeah, I’m looking forward to it, finally going to go on my first visit.”