The Presidents Cup

Mundy, acknowledged as a golfer with a passion for the game and everything that goes with it, recounts his surreal experience at the Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey. “I’d always dreamed of being in the midst of legendary golfers and interacting with the greats however briefly, and I finally did it at the Presidents Cup”. For Mundy it was not just another tour in some exotic country, teeing off on the world’s best golf courses during his hey days but it was a rare honour indeed to be invited to serve at the Presidents Cup by the PGA tour Commissioner Jay Monahan and be a part of all that awesome excitement. He was bowled over by the stunning location of the course, set right near Manhattan and spread out three miles across the Hudson River, unlike any golf course in the world! Mundy says that he considers this experience where the world’s best 24 players came together to compete for team, country and the honour of raising the Presidents Cup as his most memorable.

I sat down for a tete-a-tete with the great Mundy and over a hot cup of tea enjoyed the little glimpses into the enviable experience of sharing space with the august company he was fortunate to have met.

Q: You have attended a number of other ‘Majors’, how does the Presidents cup compare with them?

A: I think the other majors I attended like the Masters, the Open, are totally different. The Presidents Cup had a different fl avor altogether, the crowds were different. Here there was a lot of camaraderie among the team members. In other majors the players are actually competitors but in this format it was fun to see the big guys handle themselves as a team and plan their game. I thought it was just fantastic.

Q: What was a unique feature of the Liberty National Golf course?

With the Presidents Cup Trophy

L-R Josh Burack, CEO Asian Tour, H R Srinivasan, MD TAKE Solutions and Uttam Singh Mundy, CEO PGTI
A: I think the golf course was beautiful; in fact I would say it was picture perfect. The practice facilities were excellent. The golf course itself was in great shape and had a fun layout. When you stepped onto the fairways you saw that they had made the 14th hole the ‘fi nish’ in place of the 18th as they felt that most of matches may not conclude on the 18th depriving the fans of witnessing the end of a match; so they converted the 18th hole into the 14th. They had a great gallery and a lot of marquees; the whole set up was the place to be in! Crowds were huge so you saw different things and different kinds of people. Another unique feature was the walk which was quite a bit but things were in control because from the club house to the first tee people moved as per their given numbers so that in spite of a long walk there was never any chaos.
With Tiger Woods

With Gary Player

Enjoying the evening
Q: As a professional player what would be your take on the playing conditions?

A: I think the playing conditions were perfect for golf. The first day was a little warm but the weather totally changed on the day 2, in the sense that it suddenly became so cold and windy. For people like us who are not used to extreme cold, the weather was a challenge but for the players I think the weather was just perfect, couldn’t have been better. For a while we thought it would even rain but fortunately the rain gods were merciful and held up the rains which would have made it even more cold and unbearable.

Q: What was the gallery like on all the days?

A: The galleries were 􀂿 lled with fans, visitors and commuters alike all immersed into the global aspects of the Presidents Cup. It was mix not only of American supporters but supporters cheering for the other
teams as well.

Q: Tell us something about the hospitality at the event?

A: The hospitality was par excellence. Right from the word go to the moment you arrived at your

destination, the travel arrangement, the pickup to the hotels, everything was organized with clockwork precision, everything was taken care of, so much so that you didn’t have to ask for anything. As a member of a federation you were treated like a VVIP. We were put up at the Conrad,NY the of􀂿 cial hotel on the River Hudson. They had arranged for ferries for the players from different teams and the VIP’s were docked straight onto the golf course. Fans too were encouraged to take the ferry service or use the ride share services. It was a multisensory experience, celebrity appearances, a global tasting adventure, golf simulator challenges and more. There were a couple of social outings- a grand dinner on Ellis Island in a museum which was transformed into a banquet hall, an evening spent with the Captains on the 102nd Floor of the New World Trade Centre and a solemn Hall of Fame induction ceremony. It was a learning experience for most of us. It was just awesome the way the event was planned and organized. Hats off to the PGA tour and the Presidents Cup for putting up such a grand show, so well- articulated and executed on every point.

Q: You have been a part of many events but what was it like to meet a league of super players at this event?

A: It was different because at other events you don’t actually get to meet so many players as each player has his own timing but here at a team event you meet a great number of players. I met Steve Striker and Nick Price, captains of the U.S. and the International teams when they were unwinding and had a long chat with them. Both are great captains. As captain of the International team, Nick Price had the toughest job in team golf actually changing the way we think of the Presidents Cup. He seemed like a very nice person. I also had the opportunity to meet his wife and daughter and hearing them speaking so highly of Anirban made me feel proud and happy. I met up with Fred Couples. He was someone I keenly followed almost about twenty years ago, admiring him as a person with a 􀃀 awless swing. He was very interested about golf developing in India and especially asked about the Golf Development Park and the number of youngsters taking to the game. I also got talking to Tiger Woods. He is a serious sort of person but a rapport was immediately created because of our mutual friend Arjun Atwal. He spoke about his visit to India and the Delhi Golf Course which had reminded him of the course in Bermuda with the same kind of grass. He was on his way to the golf course and so unfortunately I could not spend more time with him.

I even met Garry Player, Ernie Els and the legendary Jack Nicklaus. There was also Josh Burack, CEO of the Asian tour and Isao Aoki from Japan. People like them are only seen on Television or at the Masters so to get an opportunity to meet and talk to them was a different high altogether. On the whole, it was a lot different from any other event; everyone was seen planning the next day’s game, the formats and the pairings which made it all very exciting.

Q: How did it feel to see the flag bearer of Indian golf play in the Presidents cup?

A: I was there for Anirban’s Tee Offs. Anirban, one of Captain Price’s picks had a great fan following. Although the American team had thousands routing for them, Anirban had a captive audience and he dutifully acknowledged the crowd and the applause. He was extra motivated knowing it was the last time that Nick Price would lead the team. He wanted to give back to him for all that he had done for the team. The American side was so dominant through the fi rst three days but only a late win on Saturday by Anirban helped the International team come into the fi nal and play on Sunday. I met so many individuals from so many federations speak highly of Anirban and indeed it was a proud feeling.

Q: You were accompanied by your wife. Was it wonderful having her around?

A: Yes, it was a combined invite from Jay Monahan for me and my spouse. In fact all the committee members were there with their wives. It was surprising to see her come into her own. She quickly made new friends with wives of delegates from all over the world. She was invited to all the offi cial functions and joined in with great gusto. I was happy to see her enjoy the event so much.

Q: What are the possibilities of PGTI hosting event like this in India?

A: The scale on which the Presidents Cup is held is out of our league at present. It is important to note that three individuals who ascended to the highest office in the USA had golf as an important part of their life and the game still continues to be an important part of their life. The Presidents Cup tournament at the Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City was opened by past Presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton who were on the course at the first tee to mark the start of the matches. But we definitely have something on the cards. We are planning a team event with another country. The Asian Tour in India will have a bigger role. It is only a matter of time when more events will be planned. It will offer a launch -pad for Indian players to move up the Order of Merit and for more international players to participate. All this is still in process and until it becomes official I cannot say much but for sure things are looking up.

Q: Who are the ‘next- in- line’ players you think will make an impact in the international circuit?

A: I don’t think it would be right to name just one or two individuals. There are number of them who are playing really well. Ajeetesh Sandhu won an event on the Asian Tour in Japan and stood second in Macau. Gaganjeet Bhullar has won 8 events on the Asian tour. It is just matter of time before players like Chikka, SSP, Joshi, Rashid Khan break out on the international circuit. There are good numbers of youngsters who are playing well on PGTI tour. The PGTI too has become competitive with cuts going PAR, 1 Over PAR and with 50 plus players within the few shots of the leader. In the last couple of events we had leading scores after two rounds of double figures. It shows the depth of professional golf in the country. These guys are definitely going to make waves on the Asian Tour or will soon be making their entry into the European Tour. And on that cheerful note of high hopes for golf in India the conversation came to an end.

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