(By Shreyashi Roy & Aman Misra)
In the 1980 movie Caddyshack, Bill Murray plays Carl Spackler in the role of the greenskeeper commissioned to look after Bushwood Country Club. The famous scene has him hacking away at flowers outside the clubhouse while he imagines himself holing out to win the Masters tournament.
With apologies to Nawazuddin Siddiqui if this were rewritten for Bollywood, SSP Chawrasia would play the role of the protagonist Danny Noonan who works his way up to the big-time. In Spackler’s words, ‘a Cinderella story, outta nowhere’.
Chow as he fondly known on tour, spoke to us after getting recommended for the Arjuna Award in a year which he successfully defended his Indian Open crown.
“The Arjuna was a dream. Sheikh Jamshed Ali was the first to win the award in 1975 when I wasn’t even born! Until today I’ve kept a photograph of him receiving the award with me. Since I was a child, I’ve always wanted to win this. Knowing that I have finally been chosen this year makes me happy because I have fulfilled my desire.”
Both are part of a legacy of golfers produced from the Royal Calcutta Golf Club in Kolkata. Ali passed in 2005 after a long battle with throat cancer, but in Chawrasia remains the link to a glorious past of self-made golfers that adopted the game played by British sahibs back in the day.
When you bring up his European Tour wins, he is quick to point out that all were in India. His peers on tour have branded him the “Indian Jack Nicklaus” for his dominance at home. Even if you consider that he has won on foreign soil in Manila, November 2016, for Chawrasia the goal is to win in Europe.
“To play at that level, you need all the shots in the bag otherwise you cannot survive.” offers the veteran who is currently number two on the Asian Tour Order of merit.
Veteran journalist Joy Chakravarty took us back to the 2011 Avantha Masters when the Kolkata golfer won for the second time on the European Tour, and in the process retained his card.
“When he holed out on the 18th, naturally the cameras rushed to him – and I remember he kept saying Abar Europe jabo!(I am going to play in Europe again!)”
It is a telling sign, what his greatest ambition is. A golfer reaches his peak between the ages of 32-35. This year in May SSP turned 39, but has no plans to slow down. “If I could, I’d happily play for a living all my life.”
While a bothersome back kept him home for this week’s Fiji International, Ranadeep Moitra posted a video on Instagram where he puts SSP through the ropes in the gym at the RCGC during his off week which is testamen to his work ethic everyone talks about.
Expect him to be back in action soon – searching for his magnum opus, that elusive win in continental Europe