On the 11th hole of the Delhi Golf Course on Tuesday, Tiger Woods, making his first visit to India missed a tee shot. Cameras had been banned from the course for the day, but that didn’t stop hundreds of the estimated 5,000 spectators using their camera-phones.
The snappers clearly wanted to get a picture of the 14-time Major winner shooting from the bushes and then probably share the photograph, a majority of which would likely be captioned ‘Tiger in the Woods’.
That hole and that bad pun apart, there was little that went wrong with Woods’ round at the DGC.
The trip may just have been a friendly one but there was little indication that he was taking it lightly. With next to no practice on an unfamiliar and what is reckoned to be challenging course Woods shot ten birdies as opposed to a single bogey on the 11th to return a card of 9-under par 63.
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The 38-year-old American had been invited to India by Hero Motor’s Pavan Munjal and the two played together over the 18 holes.
They were joined over a couple of holes each by Munjal’s invitees including SC Judge Vikramjit Sen, media figure Pranoy Roy and Aveek Sarkar and corporates including DLF’s Rajiv Singh.
India’s best ranked woman golfer Sharmila Nicolet played alongside for the 11th and 12th holes while the last three holes saw Woods and Munjal partnered by pro golfers Anirban Lahiri and Shiv Kapur.
The last three holes were the only competitive part of the round and for the record it was the Indian professional pair who won two holes to one. The scores, however, held little interest for the spectators at the DGC.
The main point of the day was the presence of Woods. “This was the largest crowd I have seen at the Delhi Golf Club and I was told that this may have been the largest at any golf event in India. There were people lined up on the greens and there were those who were hanging onto the monuments around the course,” says NP Singh a DGC member.
Chants of ‘Go Tiger’
Chants of ‘Go Tiger’ and ‘We love you Tiger’ periodically sounded from behind cordoned off greens as Woods and Munjal trudged along the course. In front of a receptive audience that would have cheered close to anything he may have said, Woods proved a gracious guest when he spoke at the end of his round. “Hard to describe how much fun we had today. I do have to say that that was the narrowest golf course I have ever played on. I’m a pro for a living and I was a little nervous at some of those tee shots. I would love to come back. Arjun Atwal said you need to come to India, you will have a blast and he was right,” he said.
Munjal suggested that Woods’ visit would not be his last. “The way Tiger played those narrow fairways, hitting right next to the pin and hitting all those birdies, I think he should come back and play the Indian Open,” he joked.
Woods may come back but its unlikely for the Indian Open. The winner of the tournament last year earned $225,000 — less than a tenth of what the American pocketed for his day long stint in the capital.