The Caddie Takes Over

ss.jpgSSP Chowrasia, a caddie-turned pro, won the EMAAR-MGF Indian Masters at the Delhi Golf Course and scripted an inspiring fairytale. He also pouched in a whopping Rs.1.6 crores in the process and more importantly, he can now play on the European tour for three years. This makes him a certainty at the elite event which features the best professional golfers in the world today. Having said that, it doesn’t mean the Indian Masters was a walk in the park (read golf course) for SSP. His competition in EMAAR-MGF Indian Masters included the likes of World No. 4 Ernie Els and the well-recognized Indian trinity of Arjun Atwal, Jyoti Randhawa and Jeev Milkha Singh. Adding to that, the unforgiving Delhi Golf Course with its difficult terrain and forest cover also did not make things easier for him. SSP also had to battle with the extreme cold and strong wind that day. This, however, did not deter the rookie who persevered with his simple game of playing short and straight. He drove and putted well and took home the title, pleasantly surprising those who were watching.

Looking at his past record, he had emerged runner-up to Arjun Atwal in the 1999 Indian Open. Recently, he has been disqualified from the Mercuries Taiwan Masters. He had led the tournament by three strokes after the opening round but unfortunately, he had signed for a wrong score and hence had to be declared ineligible He had ended the year 2006 by finishing tied tenth in the Volvo Masters of Asia. Yet in 2007, SSP had endured a tough start as he had missed numerous cuts with poor putting during the front half of the season. Nevertheless, his form then improved with four top-20s in the second half of the season where his lone top-10 was a tied ninth finish in the Hero Honda Indian Open. Also, SSP has won ten times on the domestic Indian Tour. However, the icing on the cake has to be the EMAAR-MGF Indian Masters, co-sanctioned by the Asian and the European tour. This man, who is the son of a green keeper at Royal Calcutta Golf Club, has come a long way from his days of being a caddie.

The SSP story proves that golf is breaking free from the elitist tag that it hitherto carried. Now, it has become all the more important that corporate companies start looking at golf as a serious professional sport in India and not a mere boardroom alternative. Along with tennis, golf has been the only other sport where Indians have rubbed shoulders with the world’s best and yet performed consistently well. Furthermore, golf cannot remain reserved to a privileged few. More players like SSP have to be unearthed and encouraged, especially from low-key centers where there is a shortage of resources and infrastructure. It is time the caddie takes over and believe you me, he can; SSP has proven that!

Prateek Kapil

[Image by :]