Colorful Chopra Breaks Through

By Brian HewittOctober 29, 2007, 4:00 pm
Almost everything about Daniel Chopra'from his two-toned hair to his rainbow sherbet golf shirts to his multi-ethnic heritage'is colorful.
His locks are tinted brown and streaked with blonde. His shirts look like something youd buy off the Good Humor Mans truck. Meanwhile, he was born in Stockholm to an Indian father and a Swedish mother.
When Im in Sweden, Im Swedish, he says. When Im in India, Im an Indian. And when Im here (in the U.S.), Im both, right down the middle.
Right down the middle, (to steal a cheap transition) was where he had been keeping his golf ball through 54 holes of the rain-plagued Ginn sur Mer Classic at Tesoro.
His lead after the Sunday morning completion of the third round was two shots at 17 under par. He quickly expanded that to three over a charging Shigeki Maruyama with birdies on each of his first three holes.
At that point, the stage was set for his first PGA TOUR victory. Quite often, the hard part is the fact that they play 72 holes.
The record of the 33-year-old Chopra, a distant relative of author Deepak Chopra, has been the only thing dull about him. He earned his playing privileges at the 2003 Q-school. He hasnt lost his card since. But he has qualified for just four major championships during that time. And he showed up at Tesoro as another face in the money-list crowd at No. 104.
Prior to reaching golfs Big Show, much of Chopras golf apprenticeship had been spent in Asia. Along the way he met Samantha, the Australian woman who would become his wife.
It took me a while to get used to the fact that, when youre playing, each shot can be costing you $100,000 where before Id be lucky if I made $100,000 in a year, he said. It was kind of hard to get used to that aspect of it.
Being No. 104 meant was he safe to keep his ticket punched for the PGA TOUR in 2008. But it also meant, even if he won the Ginn first prize of more than $800,000, he would still be a long shot to finish in the top 30 on the final 2007 money list, which would gain him an invitation to his first Masters.
Stay in the present and live for the now, Daniel Chopra once said.
Easier said than done.
Deepak Chopra once wrote a book entitled, Magical Beginnings, Enchanted Lives. Daniel Samir Chopra was born on Christmas Eve eve in 1973. Until Sundays extra early start, he had been beginning each day hopping into his car into Orlando and making the two-hour-plus drive to Port St. Lucie and the Arnold Palmer design at Tesoro.
Three birdies in your first three holes when youre the 54-hole leader has to feel a little like a magical beginning. But Chopra is used to seizing the day. When he visited The Great Wall of China in 2005 he brought along a 5-iron and became the first person, in recorded history, to hit a golf ball off of it.
The harder part would be staying in the present. It didnt hurt that Chopra had hired veteran looper Mitch Knox to carry his bag at Tesoro. Knox was David Duvals bagman in Duvals salad days.
But when Chopra bogeyed the fifth hole of his final round, his lead shrunk to two. Then he wedged it to 18 inches on nine and suddenly his lead was up to four.
Then be bogeyed 10 and 13. Maruyama, No. 137 on the money list birdied 15 and eagled 16 after also birdieing the first three holes. Fredrik Jacobson birdied 9, 11, 13 and 15.
And when play was stopped late Sunday there was a three-way tied for first at 18 under. Play resumed Monday morning at 8 a.m.
Maruyama and Jacobson, playing together in a group ahead of Chopra, both parred in to finish at 18 under.
Chopra birdied the par-5 16th with a 7-foot putt. He parred the difficult par-3 17th. But he drove it into the bunker on 18. From there, he knocked it on and two-putted for par and the victory.

Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Ginn sur Mer Classic at Tesoro
  • Getty Images

    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.

    Getty Images

    Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

    “Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    “We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

    In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010. 

    Getty Images

    Woods impresses DeChambeau, Day on Tuesday

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 11:27 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Bryson DeChambeau played with Tiger Woods for the first time Tuesday morning, and the biggest surprise was that he wasn’t overcome by nerves.

    “That’s what I was concerned about,” DeChambeau said. “Am I just gonna be slapping it around off the tee? But I was able to play pretty well.”

    So was Woods.

    DeChambeau said that Woods looked “fantastic” as he prepares to make his first PGA Tour start in a year.

    “His game looks solid. His body doesn’t hurt. He’s just like, yeah, I’m playing golf again,” DeChambeau said. “And he’s having fun, too, which is a good thing.”

    Woods arrived at Torrey Pines before 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, when the temperature hadn’t yet crept above 50 degrees. He warmed up and played the back nine of Torrey Pines’ South Course with DeChambeau and Jason Day.

    “He looks impressive; it was good to see,” Day told afterward. “You take (Farmers) last year and the Dubai tournament out, and he hasn’t really played in two years. I think the biggest thing is to not get too far ahead, or think he’s going to come back and win straight away.

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    “The other time he came back, I don’t think he was ready and he probably came back too soon. This time he definitely looks ready. I think his swing is really nice, he’s hitting the driver a long way and he looks like he’s got some speed, which is great.”

    Woods said that his caddie, Joe LaCava, spent four days with him in South Florida last week and that he’s ready to go.

    “Before the Hero I was basically given the OK probably about three or four weeks prior to the tournament, and I thought I did pretty good in that prep time,” Woods told, referring to his tie for ninth in the 18-man event.

    “Now I’ve had a little more time to get ready for this event. I’ve played a lot more golf, and overall I feel like I’ve made some nice changes. I feel good.”

    Woods is first off Torrey Pines’ North Course in Wednesday’s pro-am, scheduled for 6:40 a.m. local time. 

    Getty Images

    With blinders on, Rahm within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

    SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

    The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

    Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

    It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

    “It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

    Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

    According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

    “I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

    And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

    As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

    He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

    “I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

    If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

    Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

    “I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

    Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

    Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

    “If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

    Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.