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.
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