5 Questions with Round 1 surprise Shiv Kapur
Shiv Kapur, 31, wasn't a name many expected to see leading the Open Championship -- especially after the native India had only played seven holes as part of the first round's final group.
But Kapur was in a zone, picking up six birdies over those seven holes to take the lead away from Zach Johnson. The back nine would catch up to the Purdue University product, but Kapur managed to post a 3-under 68 to sit two shots off the lead.
Kapur had a successful amateur career at the outset of the century, winning the Indian and Malaysian Amateurs in 2000 and was the gold medal winner in the 2002 Asian Games. But, after turning pro in 2004, victories have not been aplenty for Kapur, winning the Asian Tour's Volvo Masters of Asia in 2005 and then the Gujarat Kensville Challenge in Feburary of this year on the Challenge Tour.
This is only Kapur's second major start, missing the cut in the Open Championship at Hoylake in 2006.
Here are five reactions from Kapur after his round on Thursday:
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On this blistering start to Thursday's round
"Got off to a dream start. I birdied my first three, and after that I just said, just keep doing what you're doing, do the basics right, hit fairways and greens. Probably the fastest greens I've ever played in my life. They weren't green, they were white out there. And couldn't get the ball to sort of stop. So I knew it's tough to hole putts out there, but you've just got to keep giving yourself chances. And putts fell for me on the front nine. I didn't really feel like I played badly on the back nine either."
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On seeing his name on the first page of the leaderboard
Yeah, it's nice. Nobody is expecting me to be up there and nobody was really -- it's a funny name in the middle of all those sort of proven Major winners and stuff. But it's nice to be -- it was nice to see my name up there. At least I can hold my head up high and say I led The Open Championship, the greatest tournament I think there is. And that's something I'll take a lot of pride in.
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On the importance of the Open Championship
It's the oldest, you know, and plus I haven't played many other (laughter). Also, I think coming from India, this was the one you always watched because it's primetime on television in India. The ones in America, obviously, the Masters, no disrespect to any of the other Majors, it's on at two or three in the morning, and this is on at 5:00 in the evening. I think there will be a few people in India sitting in the pub watching this. I watched a lot of Open championships growing up, so for me it held a special place in my heart.
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On how big this is for golf in India
"It's early days yet, but, yes, of course. I think what India really needs, or Asia in general, like Y.E. Yang doing it; it was a big thing for Korea. In India golf is already the fastest growing sport statistically. We have two Indian journalists who know that. Golf is really on the up, and if you were to have someone go out and do well in a Major, it gives the young kids a lot of belief, that, hey, if he can do it, I can do it as well. And I think you want to be the guy that's setting the bar for them.
"And people look up to you and say, if he did it, I can, as well. We have a really strong bunch of young kids coming through in India. I don't think it'll be long before we'll have a handful of Indians playing in the Majors. I think it's just a matter of time. And with more performances like some of the others, Arjun Atwal winning in America, golf became pretty big in India. I think this week if I can keep doing what I'm doing, I think it would be a big step for Indian golf."
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On watching early coverage before Thursday's afternoon round
"I watched a bit of the coverage this morning, and I saw the ball bouncing everywhere. So I think in some respects it was good to watch and know. Sometimes you're overcautious. You see something and you get a negative in your mind saying, oh, you don't want to go there, because I saw Ernie take three shots out of that bunker. But I think on the most part you can learn a little bit with the late start. The winds didn't die down like the forecast said it would. So it was quite breezy and the greens obviously don't get any better in the afternoon. It will be nice to go out in the morning, hopefully slightly softer conditions, slightly slower greens. These greens are too fast for me."