Shiv Kapur has urged Asian Tour members to embrace the unique opportunities that are being presented to them – and cash in on the life-changing sums of money that’s up for grabs.
Having turned 40 in February, the Indian now qualifies as one of the Asian Tour’s senior citizens. More than that, he’s an individual who is admired and widely respected among his peers.
Now into his 18th year as a professional golfer, Kapur’s reasoned and thought-provoking views resonate among the young guns he now finds himself trying to outwit on the course.
Son of a New Delhi stockbroker who was born and grew up in India, educated at Purdue University in the United States, and has played golf around the globe, it’s not surprising that Kapur boasts a genuinely international outlook.
Which goes a long way to explaining why he’s so bullish about the launch of LIV Golf’s International Series – and the enticing riches that are being offered.
Given the nomadic golfing lifestyle he’s led for the best part of two decades, Kapur is well placed to assess the positives that today’s up-and-coming golfers can glean from performing around the world.
On the eve of the unfolding of a new chapter in the history of the Asian Tour at Slaley Hall Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort in the International Series England, Kapur’s anticipation is palpable.
He said: “I think it’s really cool that the Asian Tour is spreading its wings now and we’re going into new territories. Playing in different conditions and playing in different countries … that’s only going to help the players become better.
“I played in Europe for many years and European players came over and played in Asia for many years.
“But we (Asian Tour members) didn’t really get the opportunities (to play in Europe), other than maybe in the Dunhill Links or going to Crans Montana (Omega European Masters).”
Kapur speaks from experience when he says being exposed to playing new courses in alien conditions can only help golfers to grow.
“To go and play a course like Slaley Hall, in usually tough conditions, cold and windy, will help the young Asian players – and the established players – to become more all-around players.
“We played in Korea three weeks ago (GS Caltex Maekyung Open) and we played in Thailand before that (Trust Golf Asian Mixed Stableford Challenge). You couldn’t have more of a variation.
“I know a lot of the players look to try and qualify for the Open Championship and this (International Series England) would be the perfect sort of warm up for that,” said Kapur, himself a three-time Open Championship participant.
Although this will mark his maiden appearance at Slaley Hall, Kapur will be mentally attuned for anything the elements throw at the players.
He said: “Newcastle is as north as it gets in England, so you can expect some pretty cold and wet weather. You’ve got to be prepared for the worst.
“That’s really great (in the sense) that it will make the Asian players more well-rounded. It will make them ready for when they go play Major championships against the best players in the world.”
These days, too, professional golfers are also having to adapt to the fact that lines of questioning aren’t restricted to birdies and bogeys. Increasingly frequently they’re being engaged in debates related to politics and morals in golf.
Kapur is forthright in his views. He said: “What’s happening right now with LIV Golf and Golf Saudi has really changed the landscape, I think.
“There’s been a lot of criticism all around. But I think if you just look at it, golf in general has benefited from it. Every Tour in the world has pushed their prize monies up as a result of it.”
There are no apologies from Kapur. “You know, the PGA Tour for years and years just sat back. Now, as a reaction to this, the Players Championship is suddenly US$20 million, the FedEx Cup is more.
“The DP World Tour pushed their prize money up. So, I think the trickle-down effect of this has been great. The Asian Development Tour is playing for more money, and the Challenge Tour is playing for more money.
“So I think, having done what they’ve done, I think the players are the biggest winners in all of this, in spite of what’s been said in the media.”
Next week’s event at Slaley Hall – the second of 10 International Series events to feature on the Asian Tour this season – is a case in point, carrying a prize purse of US$2 million. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The winner of the International Series England will receive direct entry into the following week’s LIV Golf Invitational at Centurion Club outside London. That tournament alone has a total prize fund of US$25 million with the champion set to bank a cheque for US$4 million.
From the perspective of most Asian Tour members – more used to playing for rupiah, baht, yen and won – that must sound like Monopoly money.
Listen to Kapur, who has amassed almost US$3 million in career Asian Tour earnings from 223 tournaments dating back to 2005.
He said: “Personally, for myself, and for Asian Tour players, it could be potentially a life-changing week, or weeks.
“You look at Joohyung Kim, Sadom Kaewkanjana and Sihwan Kim, or whoever is already qualified [for the LIV Golf Invitational]. They’ve got a chance to play for a US$4 million first prize! I mean, who wouldn’t want to play for that?
“All the politics aside, these are life-changing amounts of money. Players are finally getting their due.”