Vi­raj Madappa— Youngest In­dian to Win Asian Tour Golf Ti­tle

Vi­raj Madappa, who is from Kolkata but based in Ben­galuru, be­came the youngest In­dian Golfer to win an Asian Tour ti­tle.

Alive - - Con­tents - ■ by Vi­jyan Bala

On 12th Au­gust this year Vi­raj Madappa won the $ 3,50,000 TAKE So­lu­tions Masters in Ben­galuru with an im­pres­sive tour­na­ment tally of 16 – un­der 268. His win at 20 years and 9 months bet­tered Ga­gan­jeet Bhullar’s record of hav­ing won a sim­i­lar ti­tle at 21 years and 3 months. Here’s what Vi­raj said to Vi­jayan Bala about his ca­reer till date and Golf - the sport he has taken up as a pro­fes­sion.

When and how did you take up Golf?

I started play­ing golf when I was 8. My par­ents took me to Mr. In­dra­jit Bhalo­tia, the golf coach at The Tol­ly­gunge Club and RCGC. Mr. Bhalo­tia en­cour­aged me to try my hand at golf and I have been play­ing this game ever since. I learnt the ba­sics of Golf from Mr. Bhalo­tia.

Who all have coached you till date?

Af­ter learn­ing the ba­sics in golf from Mr. In­dra­jit Bhalo­tia, my coach sug­gested in 2016 that I move to Ben­galuru where I would have ac­cess to sports fit­ness fa­cil­i­ties, sports nu­tri­tion­ists and the Golf coach Mr. Tarun Sarde­sai. Since 2016 I have been coached by Mr. Tarun Sarde­sai in Ben­galuru.

Did you try to model your­self on any star?

I did not model my­self on any spe­cific golf star but I do try to learn from the games of le­gends like Jack Nick­laus, Arnold Palmer, Phil Mick­el­son and Tiger Woods.

Tell us about your great­est mo­ment till this day?

My great­est mo­ment till date will nat­u­rally be my maiden Asian Tour vic­tory

at TAKE So­lu­tions Masters on 12th Au­gust at Ben­galuru. I earned my Asian Tour card this year and I am very happy that I could win a tour­na­ment in my home coun­try and in my rookie year. How­ever, I also have won­der­ful mem­o­ries of my vic­to­ries at the All In­dia Ju­niors which have al­ways been spe­cial.

Have you no­ticed any dif­fer­ence be­tween play­ing abroad and in In­dia?

I have played a lot of Ju­nior and Am­a­teur golf in­ter­na­tion­ally. There is not a great dif­fer­ence in the abil­ity and com­pet­i­tive spirit of young golfers in In­dia and abroad. How­ever, the num­ber of golfers play­ing com­pet­i­tive golf in In­dia is very small while the field in other coun­tries in Asia and in US is quite deep. This leads to more com­pe­ti­tion be­tween play­ers. Also, there are a num­ber of top notch golf cour­ses abroad where one can play. Col­leges there also en­cour­age the sport, which re­sults in more play­ers train­ing to be golfers while get­ting an ed­u­ca­tion in a good col­lege.

This is not pos­si­ble in In­dia where golf is gen­er­ally not recog­nised in col­leges as a sport that needs to be en­cour­aged.

How do you think other coun­treis make Cham­pi­ons?

I feel world cham­pi­ons are made more by ta­lent and hard work than the fact where the per­son is born. Golf is rel­a­tively an un­known sport in In­dia and as there are not many young­sters tak­ing up the game com­pet­i­tively; we have not had any world cham­pi­ons as yet. How­ever, things are chang­ing and play­ers like Shub­hankar Sharma, Anir­ban Lahiri, Shiv Ka­pur are cre­at­ing a name for them­selves in in­ter­na­tional golf. Fur­ther, play­ers like Ga­gan­jeet Bhullar, Rahil Gang­jee and Ajeetesh Sandhu are do­ing very well in Asia. We must not for­get that we have had some ex­cep­tional golfers from In­dia like Jeev Milkha Singh, Jy­oti Rand­hawa, Ar­jun Singh At­wal who have made a mark in­ter­na­tion­ally and have pop­u­lar­ized the game in In­dia.

Do you think In­dia will take lead in In­ter­na­tional Golf any time soon?

I think very soon we will see In­dian play­ers in the top ranks of in­ter­na­tional golf. The names I men­tioned ear­lier have all the po­ten­tial to break into the big league and come up trumps.

These play­ers lack noth­ing that a win­ner in golf should have.

Fi­nally, how does the sport Golf help a per­son grow and de­velop?

Golf is one of the most dis­ci­plined sports. It is a ‘Gen­tle­man’s game’ and teaches you to re­spect your com­peti­tors. Hon­esty and in­tegrity are para­mount for the player’s con­duct while play­ing the game. Be­ing an in­di­vid­ual sport, it is only hard work and ded­i­ca­tion that makes a player. Hence, Golf teaches one to be dis­ci­plined, hard work­ing and hon­est.

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