Golf: Kapil swaps his bat for a club

KAPIL DEV faces perhaps the most daunting challenge of his sporting career as he tees off today as an amateur in the Hero Honda Masters event in Delhi, India.

The 39-year-old former Indian cricket captain and leading Test wicket- taker had never swung a golf club before he retired from cricket, but in two and a half years he has managed to bring his handicap down to three.

"I had my first game of golf in 1995, and spent the first year hacking it around the course like most amateurs," said Kapil, whose potential was spotted last month when he played with Ernie Els, Ian Botham and Ivan Lendl in the pro-am event before the Alfred Dunhill Cup at St Andrews.

"I was very flattered when Ernie Els' coach, Robin Baker, came up to me afterwards and said I had a lot of golf in me," he said. "He videoed my swing and gave me some pointers which he usually keeps for the professionals."

Kapil, who averages 280 yards off the tee, has modest ambitions. "One day I would love to represent India as an amateur," he said, "but my goal this week is to just make the cut."

Se-Ri Pak, the Korean woman who took the American tour by storm this year, has left hospital in Seoul after treatment for exhaustion.

The 21-year-old won four LPGA tournaments, including the US Women's Open and the LPGA Championship, in the best debut year on the tour since Nancy Lopez in 1978. A spokesman for her sponsors, Samsung, accepted partial blame for her condition. "But it wasn't just us," they said. "Everybody wanted her."

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