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Know Your Olympian: SSP Chawrasia, From Caddie to Rio Golfer

Golf will be part of Olympic after 112 years and Chawrasia won the Indian Open to cement his place for the occassion

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SSP Chawrasia reacts after winning the Indian Open. (Photo: Indian Open)

Shiv Prasad Chawrasia – Indian golfer and current champion of India Open – will be one of the three Indians to represent the country as the sport returns to the Olympics after a log gap of 112 years.

Early Days

Chawrasia tried his hand at golf for the first time at a young age of 10. His father worked as the greenskeeper at Royal Calcutta Golf Club. This is where Chawrasia started practicing all by himself. He was famous for his short games and hence was given a nickname ‘Chipputtsia’ (Chip-Putt-Sia).

He was also a caddie for few years before he became a professional golfer.

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Turned Pro in 1997

Chawrasia became a professional golfer in 1997. His first big achievement came in the year 1999 when he finished second to Arjun Atwal in the Indian Open.

Chawrasia earned the right to join the Asian Tour in 2006 after making steady progress in the domestic golf tournaments. By then, he had won eight India Tour titles and had a total earning of $36,983 as prize money.

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A Topsy Turvy First Asian Tour

Chawrasia managed to place himself in the top 20 in the Philippine open and China Open – the initial tournaments in the tour. He improved his performance significantly in the Bangkok Airways Open as he finished in the top 10 for the first time.

In the Mercuries Masters in Taiwan, Chawrasia held the lead by five shots at the halfway mark. However, the golfer forgot to sign his scorecard and was disqualified from the tournament as a result of it.

He narrowly missed winning the 2006 Indian open which was won by Jyoti Randhawa in the play-offs. He ended at number 10 in the Volvo Masters.

Chawrasia made a good start to 2007 Malaysian Open as he finished a close second at the end of opening day. However, he lost ground on the second day and was relegated to number 16 by the end of the tournament. He finished his Asian Tour at number 32, six ranks above when he started the tour.

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Ticket to Europe

Year 2008 was one of the most successful years of the golfer’s career. He won the India Masters tournament with a score of nine under par. He was the only player to have a sub par score on all four days of the tournament.

The convincing win earned him his first ever European tour. After the tournament, he said:

I never thought that I could win this tournament, but I don’t know what I’m going to do in the future. I am sure I will play more both in Asia and Europe, but my ultimate target is to get onto the US Tour. It is the biggest win of my life.

He became third Indian golfer to qualify for the Europe tour after Jeev Milkha Singh and Arjun Atwal.

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Qualification for Rio

Having finished runner-up at the Indian Open no less than four times since 1999, SSP Chawrasia needed a win to not just get the monkey off his back, but also to secure his qualification for Rio Olympics.

He did just that. He came up with a sedate one-under 71 in the final round to edge out defending champion Anirban Lahiri (69) and Korea’s Jeunghun Wang (68).

With this win, the 37-year-old pocketed a winner’s cheque of $2,76,660 and moved to fourth place in the Asian Tour Order Of Merit. More importantly, he secured his berth at the Rio Olympics 2016.

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The countdown to Rio has begun and Shiv Shankar Prasad Chawrasia and his partner Anirban Lahiri have set their eyes on gold.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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