Johannesburg - Shiv Kapur left South Africa a disappointed man, but after a breakthrough season on the European Challenge Tour, the rising Indian star is aiming for success at the 103rd South African Open Championship at Glendower from 21-24 November.
According to the supersport.com website, Kapur will line up alongside a stellar cast of world stars in the opening event on the 2014 European Tour schedule, including 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and two-time US Open winner Retief Goosen from South Africa, 2001 Open champion David Duval and world No 3 and defending champion Henrik Stenson from Sweden.
It will not be the first time Kapur challenges for the world’s second oldest Open title.
Three years ago, the New-Delhi player was denied in a play-off by Scotland’s Richie Ramsay. But this time around, the two-time Challenge Tour winner will be bringing a much bigger portion of experience to the battle.
Kapur took up a golf scholarship at Purdue University and during his time at college, the All-American captured the Malaysian Amateur Open in 2000, the Indian Amateur Open Championship in 2002 and collected a gold medal in the individual competition at the Asian Games in the same year.
But he really rose to fame when he claimed the Asian Tour’s Volvo Masters of Asia in 2005. Then, after several years in Asia, Kapur moved to the European Challenge Tour and captured his maiden victory on home soil at the Gujarat Kensville Challenge in February.
Just a fortnight ago, the 31-year-old capped a tremendous season by winning the season-ending Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final in November. This victory vaulted Kapur to fourth in the final Challenge Tour rankings and sealed his card on The European Tour for the 2014 season.
As the first Indian player to graduate from the European Challenge Tour, Kapur hopes to follow in the footsteps of other Indian greats, including European Tour winners Jeev Milka Singh and Arjun Atwal.
But the Indian golfer is not alone in seeking glory on South African soil.
Eleven of the 15 players who earned exemption for the 2014 European Tour will line up at Glendower with the same designs, including Order of Merit winner Pavan Andrea from Italy, fifth placed Johan Carlsson from Sweden and sixth placed Dutchman Daan Huizing.
The Challenge Tour hopefuls will have their job cut-out though to hold off the South African challenge led by the highest ranked player in the field. Schwartzel has come close on two occasions and the Masters champion won’t take no for an answer a third time.