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NOTESVFROM THE ASIAN TOUR

SSP

Truly Made in

India

S.S.P Chawrasia successfully defended his Hero Indian Open title in early March by seven-shot. As Chuah Choo Chiang writes, the slightly built Chawrasia proves that the old cliché ‘drive for show, putt for dough’ is always right.

S Getty Images/AFP

tanding at a mere 1.65m and weighing 67kg, S.S.P Chawrasia cer t a i n ly pu nche s ab ove h i s weight in a game t hat is fast becoming all power and strength as epitomized by current world number one golfer, Dustin Johnson. Chawrasia ranks a lowly 168th out of 174 golfers in driving distance on the Asian Tour with his average of 270 yards - a distance probably matched by club amateur golfers while on the European Tour, the 38-yearold is presently dead last amongst 233 golfers with 265 yards next to his name. In contrast, Johnson leads the PGA Tour driving stats with 316.2 yards!  But like the old cliché ‘drive for show, putt for dough’, the slightly built Chawrasia is proving that golfing success is not just all about driving the ball a mile but also rewards

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those with a midas touch with the irons and around the greens. And after all these years, he has finally earned the recognition of being one of the most gifted and greatest golfers to emerge from India.  Despite five previous victories on the Asian Tour, including three which were cosanctioned with the European Tour on home soil, Chawrasia’s name has often been left out of discussions amongst pundits and golf fans whenever it touched on Indian golf.  Of course, the names of Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal, Jyoti Randhawa and A n irba n La h iri, a l l former A sia n Tour number ones, are often mused as the subcontinent’s flagbearers and rightly so too due to the amount of success they have achieved.   T h i s a l l c h a n g e d w h e n C h aw r a si a successfully defended his Hero Indian Open

S.S.P Chawrasia holds up the national flag after winning his first European Tour Indian Opent title on home soil in 2016 HKGOLFER.COM

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Getty Images/AFP

Standing at a mere 1.65m and weighing 67kg, Chawrasia proves that golfing success is not just all about driving the ball a mile 44

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title at the ultra-demanding DLF Golf and Country Club’s Gary Player course in early March by romping to a majestic seven-shot victory. Hosting its f irst men’s international competition following a total revamp of its course, the eye-catching Player design measured at a beastly 7,373 yards on the tournament scorecard, and that too with tournament officials opting to not use all the championship tees due to the severity of the design, which included tough and penal driving holes, elevated and undulating greens.  After his first practice round, Chawrasia, who had won most of his titles at the Delhi Golf Club, shook his head in disbelief at how challenging the golf course was but he took it all in his stride, probably adhering to Player’s advice via a tweet which said “patience will be rewarded.’   Indeed, Chawrasia showed all his traits to earn a sixth Asian Tour win and fourth European Tour title, which he emulated the total European wins held by Singh. He also became the first Indian to successfully defend a title on the European Tour and only

the third to do so in the tournament’s rich history. With only seven golfers breaking par throughout four days of brutal golf, which saw scores soaring into the 80s, Chawrasia stood tallest amongst the men, and despite the disadvantage of being a short hitter, he won by using his guile, touch and patience to prevail in such convincing manner that his peers took to twitter to pay tribute.  Belgian Nicolas Coelsarts tweeted his admiration. “I don’t think people understand how good S.S.P. Chawrasia’s performance was last week, was demanding of everyone’s game and even more for him.”   S p a n i a rd R a f a C a b r e r a B el l o , t h e highest ranked in the field that week, wrote: “Congrats to SSP for a superb performance in a very challenging track and winning again on home soil!” while the legendary Player also extended a congratulatory tweet by saying: “Wonderful, hard fought win at DLF G&CC to go back-to-back #hio2017. Title defense is the best defense! Congratulations. GP”  The local media were truly in awe of Chawrasia’s heroics, remembering that he HKGOLFER.COM

Chawrasia’s name has often been left out of discussions amongst pundits and golf fans whenever it touched on Indian golf had grown up in such a simple manner in Kolkotta to a father who worked as one of the greenskeeper at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club. The boy who once climbed over the club walls to sneak in a few holes and used torch lights to help him practice his chipping and putting in the dark is now one of India’s golfing heroes. And Singh, a double Asian Tour number one, was amongst those who is now pushing for Chawrasia to be recognised with the nation’s Arjuna Award, which is one of the highest accolades given to sportsmen.  Singh also took to twitter to message the country’s Prime Minister. He wrote: “Dear Mr PM @narendramodi - how about some message for Indian Open champion @SSP_ Golf - truly Made in India and world-class.”  Indeed, Chawrasia is truly Made in India and worthy to be called a world-class golfer. Chuach Choo Chiang is Director, Communication of the Asian Tour and is based in Malaysia. HKGOLFER.COM

Italian Matteo Manassero (in the picture) shared third place with Scotsman Scott Jamieson, eight behind the winner HK GOLFER・APR 2017

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