Kapur Parks Himself in Pole Position in India

Fri 29 Feb 2008

Kapur Parks Himself in Pole Position in India

Gurgaon, February 29: India?s Shiv Kapur lived up to the adage ?Beware the sick golfer? when he fired a sparkling seven-under-par 65 for the joint halfway lead with Australia?s Unho Park in the Johnnie Walker Classic on Friday.
The talented Kapur, the Asian Tour?s rookie of the year in 2005, rose from his sick bed to post a blemish-free round that included one eagle and five birdies at a sun-kissed DLF Golf and Country Club.
The smooth-swinging Park, searching for his maiden victory, was equally impressive with an eight-birdie round for a 66 while another Indian, Jyoti Randhawa charged into contention by matching his young compatriot?s score for third place with Japan?s Taichiro Kiyota.

World number five Adam Scott of Australia stayed within striking reach after grinding out a second successive 68 to lie just two off the pace in a share of fifth place. Fijian Vijay Singh and 2006 Asian number one Jeev Milkha Singh of India will enter the third round four off the lead.

Down with a virus since the start of the week, the 25-year-old Kapur showed no ill-effects of his poor health as he peppered the flags with a wonderful array of shots. He missed an eight foot birdie chance at the last for the sole lead but was, without surprise, thrilled to jointly lead the US$2.5 million Johnnie Walker Classic.

?I'm obviously pretty happy. If at the start of the day or week, if somebody told me I would be leading after two rounds I would be laughing in their face,? said Kapur.

The Indian, winner of the 2005 Volvo Masters of Asia, couldn?t play a practice round at the Arnold Palmer-designed DLF course as he was too ill and has required his back to be taped up because of soreness from the viral attack.
?I?m like an injured soldier,? he said. ?Yeah, I can talk, I can breathe. But I got up this morning and my back was sore. Like I said yesterday, sometimes it's better when you're sick, because you're not thinking so much about technique.?
Kapur sensationally turned in 31 following three birdies and an eagle on the sixth hole when he rifled a three iron to 10 feet of the flag and birdied the 14th and 16th holes, the last from 30 feet. His faithful caddie, Takur, told him: ?The best energy booster is a birdie so every birdie you make will carry you through the next hole."
?It's funny how that works in golf. If you're playing well, it doesn't matter how low energy, you find a way to get through the round,? said Kapur.

Park, an Asian Tour regular searching for his maiden victory, credited his superb run to Vijay, saying he watched the big Fijian at the practice range earlier in the week and picked up a valuable tip.

After missing the cut at the SAIL Open last week, the Singapore-based and Korean-born Park?s confidence was in tatters. ?I was struggling with my swing but since missing the cut, I?ve watched a few of the good players here. I was watching Vijay on his backswing and he keeps his head really still.

?He doesn?t sway or slide on the backswing and I tried to do something similar as I move a lot on my back swing. I just tried to stay more steady and it?s working,? said Park.

Playing on his home course, Randhawa, Asia?s number one in 2002, was also proudly flying India?s flag and revealed that a change in mindset helped him produce seven birdies on the card.

?It's a great round. I was not feeling all that great when I finished yesterday, and I think I decided what to do today and I stuck with it. I guess it's just expectations. You're playing in your country and people expect you to play well, you expect to play well and before you know it, you play and you start scoring and seeing the leaderboard. You could be two-under or three-over.

?That's what I did today, I just tried to play the game. I just wanted to go out there and have fun and do the best that I could with my game. That helped. That was great,? said Randhawa.

Scott, the biggest draw at the Johnnie Walker Classic, didn?t produce his best golf but managed to post a number that kept him firmly in the title mix. The Australian said it was important to stay up on the leaderboard as he bids for a second title of the season.

?Yeah, it?s good to get on the leaderboard early. You?re always in touch with whatever that is going on out there. Around this course, it?s very hard to make up a lot of shots. So being up there with the leaders is a good spot right now,? said Scott, who triumphed in Qatar last month.

?Obviously at the moment I'm right in contention, so that's a good spot to be. I didn't play quite as well today as I did yesterday but still managed to have a good round.?

The halfway cut was set at two-under-par 142, with 66 players progressing into the weekend rounds. A total of 11 of 18 Indians in the field survived the cut but joint overnight leader Shamim Khan missed out after stumbling with a 76.

Leading second round scores
134 - Shiv Kapur (IND) 69-65, Unho Park (AUS) 68-66
135 - Taichiro Kiyota (JPN) 68-67, Jyoti Randhawa (IND) 70-65
136 - Jose Manuellara (ESP) 69-67, Adam Scott (AUS) 68-68, Graeme Storm (ENG) 70-66, Phillip Archer (ENG) 72-64
137 - Greg Chalmers (AUS) 68-69, Lin Wen-tang (TPE) 70-67, Adam Bland (AUS) 69-68, Richard Finch (ENG) 72-65
138 - Paul Sheehan (AUS) 68-70, Jeev Milkhasingh (IND) 68-70, Daniel Vancsik (ARG) 67-71, Vijay Singh (FIJ) 70-68, Scott Strange (AUS) 71-67, Soren Hansen (DEN) 69-69
139 - Rahil Gangjee (IND) 68-71, Michael Long (NZL) 70-69, Mark Brown (NZL) 71-68, Chris Rodgers (ENG) 72-67, James Kamte (RSA) 68-71, Lee Won-joon (AUS) 70-69, Marcus Fraser (AUS) 71-68, Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 74-65, Arjun Singh (IND) 69-70

For further information, please contact the Asian Tour?s Chuah Choo Chiang at the Johnnie Walker Classic Media Centre tel: +91 124 734810. Also visit www.asiantour.com for live scoring.

First played in Hong Kong in 1990, the JOHNNIE WALKER CLASSIC broke new ground by not only being the first tournament to be jointly sanctioned by the European, Asian and Australasian golf Tours, but also by being unique in that the event has been played in seven countries and at 12 golf clubs over the past 17 years. The 2008 JOHNNIE WALKER CLASSIC has also gained the all-important support of the PGTI, the Professional Golfers Tour India.

The JOHNNIE WALKER CLASSIC, presented by the world's biggest-selling deluxe whisky, offers prize money of £1.25m (US$2.5m), and will be televised live around the world.

The event is owned by DIAGEO, the world's leading premium drinks business, and managed as it has been since the very first event, by IMG, the world's premier sports, lifestyle management and marketing company.

In the game of golf, there are few brands that can match JOHNNIE WALKER and its association with the sport, the style and excellence of its tournament - the JOHNNIE WALKER CLASSIC.  It is an event that in 17 years has gained the reputation of being one of the best in the world, continually attracting outstanding players, huge galleries and worldwide television coverage.