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Golf: Kapur up for the fight in Finland after doing India proud at The Open

Kapur admits “it was nice to steal the limelight from Tiger Woods – momentarily” after topping the leaderboard on the first day of The Open. Photo: Getty Images.

Kapur admits “it was nice to steal the limelight from Tiger Woods – momentarily” after topping the leaderboard on the first day of The Open. Photo: Getty Images.

July 31, 2013: After basking in the fame and adulation that comes with topping the leaderboard at The Open Championship, Shiv Kapur arrived at this week’s Finnish Challenge focused on making his comeback to The European Tour via the Challenge Tour.


Kapur reached one of the headiest heights of his career two weeks ago when the Indian birdied six of his opening seven holes at Muirfield to storm to the top of the leaderboard during the first day of the oldest of the four majors. By the time he reached the ninth green, Kapur was catapulted into the limelight as the TV cameras and dozens of photographers perused his every move.


It was a day Kapur will never forget and one that makes him even more determined in his efforts to build on a maiden Challenge Tour title, at the season-opening Gujarat Kensville Challenge, and claim a top 15 spot in the Rankings.


“It was an amazing experience,” said the 31-year-old from New Delhi. “You grow up as a kid hoping one day you will see your name up on that leaderboard. For me, The Open Championship is the greatest tournament of them all because, growing up in India, that was the one Major we would watch and look forward to.


“It was a surreal experience and I really soaked it in. At the ninth I looked up and saw the leaderboard and it was just, ‘wow’. Obviously I would have liked to have played four solid rounds, but being up there at the top momentarily is certainly better than never being up there at all.


“It was nice to steal the limelight from Tiger Woods, playing on the same side of the draw, momentarily. I got some nice messages from people saying it was the proudest moment of their lives seeing the Indian flag atop the leaderboard at The Open. People in my club said they never thought they would see in their lifetime – an Indian leading a major. There was so much positive feedback.”


After such an overwhelming experience then, Kapur admits it has been difficult reeling in his emotions and getting back to the daily grind of tournament golf.


“It is difficult. Last week in Russia was difficult for me because I was mentally fatigued from the whole thing, completely spent,” he admits


“I haven’t played many Challenge Tour events so far because I’ve had a few European Tour events and I’m also trying to juggle the Asian Tour, but I have come to a point in the season where I’m going to play three or four events here and give it a go and see what happens.”


There are plenty of other players in the field at Kytaja Golf, in Hyvinkaa near Helsinki, with big-time experience, including former Ryder Cup players Jarmo Sandelin and Oliver Wilson as well as three-time European Tour winner Nick Dougherty.


Kapur is also joined by six other winners from the 2013 Challenge Tour, including François Calmels, who only needs one more victory to earn automatic promotion to The European Tour.


Home hopes will rest on the likes of Roope Kakko, who is 21st in the Challenge Tour Rankings after an impressive start to the season, and experienced pro Mikko Korhonen, while 23-year-old Tapio Pulkkanen is a rising star of Finnish golf and will aim to secure a maiden title on home soil.


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