Rarely has Shiv Kapur been as unprepared as this week. When he tees off 1.55pm Spain time for the Canary Islands Championship in Tenerife on Thursday, that would be on the mind. But overriding the concern is the relief of emerging from a “forced sabbatical of five weeks” after daughter Veda tested positive for COVID19, and just being able to tee off on the European Tour.
Despite nowhere to play with the Asian Tour hit hard by the pandemic since March last year and even tournaments back home on the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) on hold after the latest surge, there was still something to look forward to. When Shiv, wife Maya and daughter Veda took off from Dubai to be with the parents, on the anvil was quality time and lots of practice at the Delhi Golf Club (DGC), where he grew up and ticked a box on the bucket list with a win on the Asian Tour in 2017.
The hours put in at DGC were keeping in mind the couple of weeks ahead on the European Tour. Prior to this were some pro pools at the Els Club, Shiv’s home club in Dubai, with John Catlin, Li Haotong and Scott Henry and other pros. These were attempts to stay in touch ahead of the Austrian Open in mid-April and the Spanish swing.
With his last pro appearance in Jamshedpur for PGTI’s year-ending event in December end, Shiv was eager to get back. As an athlete, there was a point to be made as well with his last two starts on the European Tour anything but memorable. Despite the urge to step up, following a schedule wasn’t easy. “Motivation is the biggest hurdle. As an athlete, you train or gym with a goal in mind, long/short term. Given the way things are at the moment, setting a schedule is the toughest part,” said Shiv.
The stint in Europe was like a ray of hope in these times, but got snuffed out when Shiv’s daughter tested positive on arrival in Dubai. Little to do in the confines of home, watching live action from the PGA Tour did not make Shiv’s isolation period easier. Emerging from this lockdown last week, all he wanted to do was let it rip off the tee. “Normally, a lot of work would have gone into sharpening the game after isolation, but I don’t have a choice now,” said Shiv.
Robbed of much-needed live practice at last week’s Tenerife Open due to visa woes, the Canary Islands Championship is like a harbinger of hope for another reason. Despite a proven track record as a professional, the individual gold at the 2002 Asian Games is still Shiv’s crowning glory. “Mounting the podium in Busan surpasses everything else, he said. Making a mark this week or soon after would bring him back in contention for Tokyo. With more than a month left for the Olympic qualification window to close, nothing is impossible. Should it happen, “an Olympic appearance would be awesome”.