'A moment to cherish'

'A moment to cherish'

Even as most of the country’s golfing enthusiasts flipped through the channels in hope of catching a glimpse of Tiger Woods’ maiden swing in India, two of Bangalore’s rising golfing talents realised their childhood dream on Tuesday --  a rendezvous with the American golfing great.

While Sharmila Nicollet played two holes with the World No 1 at the Delhi Golf Club, thanks to her sponsor Hero -- the chief organisers of the event -- S Chikkarangappa managed to shake hands and pose for a priceless photograph with his icon after being invited by Anirban Lahiri to caddie for him. “Well, I’m just so lost for words,” gushed Sharmila, India’s youngest Ladies European Tour player. “He’s a living legend of the sport and I’ve grown up idolising him. I never imagined I would be seeing him one day, let alone play two holes. 

“When he won the Masters as a 22-year-old, he inspired so many kids to take up golf and I’m one among them. His attitude and charisma has just taken the sport to such great heights and for him to come to India is such a big thing. Today is definitely one the most important days in my life.”

Chikkarangappa too shared the same sentiment. “I got goosebumps when I saw him. He was practising about 100 yards away and I just wanted rush and shake hands with him. Then I got the chance to walk along with him for a few holes but couldn’t touch him.

“The emotion was just boiling over. But, I knew I would get a chance on the 16th as that was the hole where  Anirban was supposed to play with him. After he completed the hole, he shook hands with me, signed a few autographs and posed for a photograph. It feels so surreal.”

Both Sharmila and Chikka­rangappa said they couldn’t believe when they were informed that would among the lucky few to meet the 14-time Major champion. “When I got the call, I was really thrilled. I just couldn’t believe it. To have lived through the dream today is just unbelievable.”

“I need to thank Anirban brother for this precious gift,” said Chikkarangappa. “Last year, he got me a sponsor’s ticket for the Gujarat Kensville Open -- a European Challenge Tour event. I had just turned pro and I got the chance to meet Sachin Tendulkar. That moment with the legend spurred me on in my rookie professional year and I finished second in the PGTI Merit List.

“Next week I’m leaving to Thailand for Asian Tour’s Q-School Final Stage and Anirban realised how this meeting with Woods could transform my life. I owe a lot to him and I intend to take this confidence forward to Thailand,” added Chikkarangappa, who incidentally has been using a tiger’s face as his putter cover ever since his early amateur days.

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