It was the dream of one golf enthusiast to bring the world’s most expensive and most admired golfer, Tiger Woods, to India. So what if it cost Pawan Munjal a whopping $2.5 million! It was worth the money to play alongside “the god of golf” for four hours.
“Tiger will be back for the Indian Open”, was all Munjal could promise at the end of the greatest show that Delhi Gold Club has witnessed.
There were no photo ops, during or after Woods’ short stay at the DGC. A set of about dozen kids did chase the fancy Jaguar car but failed to get the big man’s autograph. Their parents, members of DGC, put all their entire PR machinery to stop Woods’ car but failed and left cursing the few office-bearers standing on one side.
Nevertheless, it was worth a watch for the over 10,000-strong crowd that had gathered at this side of the Capital on Tuesday. Even a passing glance was enough to make out that the Capital’s rich and famous were there to watch golf’s larger-than-life hero. Former cricketers like Madan Lal, Murali Karthik and Nikhil Chopra were there alongside many current and retired bureaucrats, all regulars at the DGC.
Former BCCI president IS Bindra, finding it tough to keep pace with the current generation of fans, quietly chose to wait near the 18th hole to catch a glimpse of Woods.
But there were just three Indian golfers present at this special occasion. One can understand that Anirban Lahiri, Shiv Kapur and Sharmila Nicollete are being promoted by Munjal, but a lot of other budding golfers could have got the rare chance to play with Woods.
Nevertheless, a strong army of more than 1,000 bouncers or much more ensured that Woods enjoyed a “reserved” environment.
Legend meets legend
More than what the World No. 1 golfer did on the course, the crowd kept talking about what he was supposed to do on the sidelines. After touching down in India in his own private jet late Monday evening, Woods met India’s cricketing legend and Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar at his hotel’s presidential suite. Woods later tweeted his joy after meeting Tendulkar and his family and called the cricket legend “cool”.
“Just met a cricket legend and his family. Sachin Tendulkar was so cool, and loved being welcomed to India,” the tweet said. Woods is reportedly having dinner with the “chosen 80” later on Tuesday. And that’s all in his ‘to do’ list before he flies out of India in the wee hours of Wednesday.
Earlier, Woods started the Tuesday assignment with an18-hole game at the DGC. Off course, there was only his host Munjal and India’s No. 1 woman golfer Sharmila to accompany him
during the first 13 holes. But later on India’s No. 1 Anirban Lahiri and Shiv Kapur made him concentrate better during the final three holes.
The pressure of playing alongside Woods can make anyone nervous, and Sharmila’s body language said it all. “See, her legs are shaking,” a senior DGC member pointed out to his colleague. And Sharmila admitted later she was nervous.
Woods at ease
Woods, who arrived in India from Dubai where he took part in the Dubai Desert Classic, was complaining about not being his best after the tournament where he failed to finish in top 10. Ask any golfer who has played at Delhi’s course and he will reveal how testing it could be for a newcomer to play in these narrow fairways. But Tiger looked at ease during all the 18 holes. The only time he played bogey was at the 11th hole. Otherwise, a score of 9-Under has hardly been achieved by anyone even during the big events here.
“It is hard to describe how much of fun we had today. It was the narrowest golf course that I played on till day and I was nervous with my tee shot. My best buddy Arjun (Atwal) told me so much about India and I am happy to be here. But it was a great fun and I would love to come back. I had a great time in India,” said Woods after the event.
Dressed in a blue tee-shirt, black trousers and white cap, the 38-year-old American showcased his hallmark straight drives on DGC’s narrow streets. He never thought of using his driver at any of the tee-points, thus, giving an indication of how confident he was about his show here.
They said it
If Munjal had fun playing exclusively with Tiger for the first nine holes then Rajiv Singh of DLF, Justice Vikramajit Sen of Supreme Court, media honchos Prannoy Roy and Aveek Sarkar had a fun-filled few rounds later on till Indian pros took over in the last three holes.
When it got to the serious level, it was Kapur who stole the limelight with a birdie in the 17th, while other two holes ended on an even keel.
Kapur, who hit birdies on the 17th and 18th holes out of the last three holes that he played, said: “Playing alongside Tiger was a great feeling. The 17th hole birdie was a good moment, specially to do it in front of the home crowd. It was a fabulous and different experience.”
Kapur was also part of the Dubai Desert Classic last week with Tiger. “We spoke about food and about the different course conditions in Dubai and DGC. Tiger also grew up playing in a narrow course and he is such a straight hitter,” said the Indian golfer.
$1.3 billion: Estimated career earnings (second richest Afro-American after Oprah Winfrey)
$155 million: Earnings on the golf course. That’s just 12% of his total income. Rest from endorsements
$83 million: Amount Woods earned in 2013, according to Forbes, making him the highest earning athlete ($8.3mn in prize money and rest from endorsements)
$115 million: Amount Woods earned in 2007, the highest sum he made in a calendar year
$110 million: Amount Woods reportedly paid in a divorce settlement to Elin Nordegren
$20 million: Cost of Woods’s yacht, ‘Privacy’. He also owns a jet
$55 million: Cost of Woods’s new house in Jupiter, Florida. It has a pitch-and-putt golf course and a private dock
$12 million: Amount golfer donated to Tiger Woods Foundation in 2011
$10,919: Prize money Woods won at the Farmer’s Insurance, San Deigo, the last competitive event he took part in (Jan 23, 2014)
$2.5 million: Amount (reportedly) paid to the golfer as appearance fee for Dubai Desert Classic 2014 (Feb 2014)
$2.5 million: Amount Hero Moto Corp’s Pawan Munjal is believed to have paid to get Woods to New Delhi for a day