For me, Indian Open is very specia, says Daniel Chopra

Daniel Chopra has been through a lot as a professional golfer. Twice, he did not have enough funds to play in Scotland. And then one day, as a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, he flew down to Scotland in a private jet.

“That’s life for you. Having gone through the hardships, I know I can survive anything now. If I were to be in a similar situation all over again, I know how to deal with it and come out stronger,” says the flamboyant Chopra, back in the country to win the $1.25-million Hero Honda Indian Open that tees off at the DLF Golf and Country Club on Thursday.

Tough times

“There was a time when I borrowed money from my good friend Jeev (Milkha Singh) to play my next tournament. Indeed those moments were very tough but it only steeled my resolve to work harder and get over the testing times as early as possible,” Chopra said.

Born to Swedish mother and Indian father, Chopra is pleased to be back in New Delhi where he spent the early part of his golfing years before representing Sweden as a professional golfer.

“For me, Indian Open is very special. I remember how I used to get weekend off from school to watch the action at the Delhi Golf Club course. At the varendah of the Club House, I would try and spend time with those who missed the cut. For me, those who played the Open where big guys.

“Today, to be able to play in the Open, I think its a big opportunity to realise my dream of winning it. It is my National Open and I would love to win,” says Chopra.

One regret

A three-time all India junior champion and once runner-up to Amritinder Singh in the National amateur championship, the 1994 PGAI champion confesses, “I regret not winning the National title.”

Known to be a ‘colourful’ character on the course Chopra loves to wear ‘strong’ colours, like ‘black and gold’ but prefers to where all-white on the weekend. “It helps my game on the course. I feel more confident,” says Chopra who signed a deal with apparel-maker Pin High to be its Global Brand Ambassador on Tuesday.

Last year, when Chopra returned to India for the Open after seven years, he finished a none-too-impressive tied-49th. “I was working on my swing then. This year, my game is coming around well,” says a confident Chopra.

Compared to his favourite Delhi Golf Club course, Chopra felt the new venue for the Open should allow more freedom to those who drive the ball a long way.Chopra showed his touch when he along with the 2005 US Open champion Michael Campbell defeated Gaganjeet Bhullar and Arjun Atwal in a friendly ‘skills’ event on Tuesday afternoon.

At the same time, Chopra was particularly impressed with Bhullar’s ability to hit the ball.

“He looked impressive. I remember playing a round with him at the DGC when he filled in for an absentee. I had no doubt in my mind that there was golfing talent there,” recalled Chopra referring to Bhullar.

Best Indian

In fact, for four days beginning Thursday, Bhullar is expected to be the best Indian hope in the absence of Jeev Milkha Singh, Jyoti Randhawa and Shiv Kapur.

With Jeev making sure of retaining his PGA Tour card for the next season following a stupendous finish in the Turning Stone championship over the past weekend, Randhawa and Kapur have their task cut out on the European Tour in the remaining events in order to retain their cards.

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