New Delhi: Sharmila Nicollet, India`s youngest woman golfer to qualify for the Ladies European Tour, looks up to Saina Nehwal for "inspiration" and wants to be as successful on the Ladies PGA tour as the ace shuttler has been on the badminton court.
"To change the perception of women`s golf in India, we need an international win. We need a win on the European or LPGA Tour. We need to emulate someone like Saina Nehwal, who has made such a global impact. I hope to be that person to do that some day for my sport," Nicollet said here today.
"Winning a tournament in Europe will change the perception towards our sport. Saina is like an inspiration. She is young and close to my age. She really inspires me, I want to follow in her footsteps and give my sport a facelift and change the way women`s golf is looked upon in India," she added.
Nicollet, who will turn 22 next Tuesday, said she is working on her game after having qualified for the second time for the LET this year.
"I have changed my swing, I changed my ball trajectory. I need to improve my approach shots and putting as that`s one area where I lack and have been working on it. I have become more creative with my shots, just trying to work it out all around the greens."
The Bangalore girl said the ranking will take care of itself if she continues to perform well on the Tour.
"Keeping my card will be the first priority. I`ll look to finish among top 80 and then top 30 and 20. When I do get in that zone and become consistent and regulating under-par rounds, I think winning a tournament on LET will be ideal this year and that`s my goal," she said.
The 21-year-old said she has become tired playing too many tournaments and will be selective from now on.
"The problem (on LET) last year was that I was under so much pressure to secure my card, that I played almost every single tournament and couldn`t maximise my potential. There was hardly any time for practice."
"This year, I`ll become more choosy. I will choose more important tournaments, plan my schedule accordingly so that I can practice like few weeks before the tournament," she said
Nicollet admitted that playing as the only Indian in LET sometimes become a lonesome experience.
"My mom used to travel with me earlier but not now. I am travelling on my own. It helped me grow as a person and gave me a sense of responsibility to be able to hold myself there against all the competitors. I hope that few more Indian players come on tour to build a team. It`s nice to have your team."
"It`s been a struggle last year, getting accustomed to the weather conditions and the players out there. I was the lone Indian there and it was really tough for me. The last season was really tough," she said.
Nicollet, who was awarded `Professional Player of the Year` by Women`s Golf Association of India in 2010 and No.1 in Order of Merit in the 2010-11 season, said her beautiful looks does not act as a distraction to her game.
"Looks and fashion are not as important as the game of golf. The way you play really gets you all the appreciation. If you have looks on your side, it creates a hype about you and people start talking a lot. But for me, my first priority is golf and will always remains so."
Nicollet hopes of representing India in the 2016 Olympics and her dream is to win a medal for the country.
"India has a bright future with the inclusion of golf in 2016. It would be a dream come true for me to win a medal there. I am really looking forward to it," she said.
On the occasion of International Women`s Day today, her message to the girls: "Be confident, be positive, fight for your right and always stand for your right, and then the world is yours."
First Published: Friday, March 08, 2013, 16:59