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Shiv Kapur hoping putter will change fortune

India's Shiv Kapur hopes a new putter will change his golfing fortunes as he bids for glory at the US$1 million OSIM Singapore Masters starting on Thursday.

The talented Indian, last season's Rookie of the Year on the Asian Tour, has been knocking on the door in recent weeks for a second title to go with his success in the Volvo Masters of Asia last December.

However, Kapur said that Lady Luck has not been especially kind to him on the putting surfaces, hence the change to a new putter this week. "I played well last week," said the 24-year-old, who finished tied seventh in the Enjoy Jakarta HSBC Indonesia Open.

"But it's just the same old story. I'm now sounding like a broken record repeating myself. I haven't had a good putting week yet this season and I'm hoping this will be the breakthrough week. I'm feeling good about it. If I can continue to play the way I have been playing, and a few putts fall, it'll be good.

"So far, I am not getting very lucky on the greens. Technically, there is nothing wrong with my putting. Some of the greens that we've played on have been tough to read and these greens here (at Laguna National Golf and Country Club) are not easy with the way it breaks.

"I've got a new putter in the bag and I'm putting in a little more practice now. I've been doing some putting drills and making some good strokes. Hopefully I'll be better in reading the greens as well."

Kapur has finished in the top-20 in his last three tournaments, starting with a tied 12th finish at the Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth where he impressed playing partner Fred Couples, the former US Masters winner. Couples said Kapur reminded him of British Open champion Justin Leonard and predicted the Indian will eventually ply his trade on the US PGA Tour.

Kapur was equal 18th in the Maybank Malaysian Open and was in contention in Jakarta at the weekend before settling for his first top-10 of the year, which moved him up to fifth place on the Asian Tour's UBS Order of Merit.

The Indian found a liking for the Laguna National's Masters Course, saying it suits his style of game. "It's a really good golf course. It's one of those where it's not very long but with the way the rough is, you have to hit a lot of good shots. The greens are also undulating and I think it tests all parts of the game. You have to hit a lot of fairways and not be bombing it out there," said Kapur.

He added that the absence of Europe's top guns this week doesn't mean that Asian players can expect victory on a platter. Sweden's Niclas Fasth is the highest ranked player in the field this week at world number 57 while England's Nick Dougherty is the defending champion.

"I think anytime you play well, whether there are stars or no stars, it doesn't matter. I think there are a lot of good players in the field. Even the Asians are going to challenge and there are some good Europeans here. Anytime you play well, you can compete with the best. If you're not on top of your game, you're going to get beat. I just have to go out and try to play well," said Kapur.

While he has been frustrated in the recent co-sanctioned events, Kapur said the experience has been invaluable. "You just learn to be patient. It's very easy to get ahead of yourself when you're in contention and that's something that you need to control.

"Anxiety is something which is very normal but I think I've learned to be really patient. If you hang in there, you'll get your chances. I think patience is a very important part on Saturday and Sunday. It's very easy for the tournament to get away from you," said Kapur.

Last season's Asian Tour number one Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand believes the challenging par three holes at Laguna National could hold the key to victory. "The eighth and 17th holes are tough. It's normally playing against the wind and there is water short of the hole and if you are over the green, there is also water. A par there is a good score," said Thaworn.

While he finished tied fourth in the Singapore Masters in 2002, Thaworn, who won a record four titles last season en route to his first Order of Merit crown, said he has often struggled here. "It's a difficult course, and it doesn't really fit my game. There are many obstacles and you need to hit long irons on many holes. There is a lot of water as well, especially on the par threes. If you don't drive well, you're in trouble."

March 8, 2006


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