Muniyappa still searching for that lost magic

His life changed dramatically with the Hero Honda Indian Open triumph in 2009, his debut year on the Asian Tour, with the title bringing him $200,000.

Chinnaswamy Muniyappa with Tiger Woods at the 2009 World Championship in China.   -  The Hindu

He never had a coach, not even when he won the Hero Honda Indian Open, the Asian Tour event which he won in 2009. However, when Chinnaswamy Muniyappa was returning to golf in 2012 after a two-year injury-forced lay-off, he decided to turn to the best in the business to get his rhythm right.

He went to Tiger Woods’ coach Butch Harmon to get his swing back in shape.

“That back injury came when I was at my peak, it pushed back my golf in a big way. I could not play for two years,” said the 38-year-old on the sidelines of the CIAL Cochin Masters, the PGTI National Series opener, at Nedumbassery.

“I went to Las Vegas and had three training sessions with Harmon. That was the first time in my life I was going to a coach. That trip cost me Rs. six lakhs.”

Muniyappa did not turn very rich by then, but golf had become his life and he was desperate to get back to form, despite, still living in a rented house with his family.

Life has been a struggle for Muniyappa. His parents moved from their native Dharmapuri, in Tamil Nadu, to Bengaluru years ago and lived in a hut near the Karnataka Golf Association course.

Tough Times

“My dad used to work as a green keeper at the KGA and my mother would cut the grass there.”

Little Muniyappa began as a ball boy at seven and after a few years, he became a caddie. The switch from caddie to player was smooth, but because of the huge expenses involved in amateur golf, he shunned it and turned a professional in 1997. However, his first victory came 10 years later in 2007.

Dramatic Change

His life changed dramatically with the Hero Honda Indian Open triumph in 2009, his debut year on the Asian Tour, with the title bringing him $200,000.

Muniyappa, who has never been to school, whose inspiring life story is now a chapter in many school books, had not seen money like that ever.

“I bought four plots of land for Rs. 60 lakh and spent the rest on other things,” he said.

Time with Tiger

That was the year when Muniyappa got a chance to play the World Championship in China where he met Tiger Woods. But, Muniyappa has not been able to come anywhere close to that high after the Asian Tour. He is still searching for that lost magic.

“I have only come into the top 25 after that… I’m still working on that. I played in the 2013 Asian Tour, spending Rs. 18 lakh. But, only made the cut in one or two tournaments,” he said.

Now, after finishing ninth and 10th in the last two seasons of the Rolex Order of Merit, Muniyappa is hoping for a better year. And he has a new goal too.

“I want to build a house, I want to play well and do that this year.”