India’s top ranked professional golfer, Vani Kapoor, is vying for the coveted Hero Women’s Indian Open (HWIO) championship, which will be held from 23-25 Oct this year. The HWIO, into its ninth year now, returns to Vani’s home course, DLF Golf & Country Club, Gurgaon after being held at the Delhi Golf Club in 2013 and 2014. Incidentally, her Indian Open debut as a professional golfer, in 2012, was also at her home course. With friends, family and well wishers, from her home town and all over India, backing her up, it will be an added advantage to the 2015 Hero Order of Merit leader.

As the HWIO closes in, we had a conversation with the 21-year-old golfer from Gurgaon who is looking forward to the Indian Open week and seeks to display her best skills in front of the home crowd. Here are some excerpts:

HWIO returns to your home course, how do you feel?

Well, it is my home course. But the new course where the tournament will be held is opening for the 1st time only on the tournament dates so that’s not much of an advantage. But the home crowd, friends and family cheering me on will definitely be an added advantage. I feel great about that.

Your HWIO debut was in 2012, the last time the tournament was held at DLF G&CC. How much have you matured since then and how would you rate your chances now, as it returns to DLF in 2015?

The chances are definitely higher this year. I have matured a lot. I see a change in myself. I am much calmer as a person now. The swing is better, my course management abilities have improved. All these are signs of improvement.

Your performances at the HWIO have been a bit disappointing. Do you think there is a mental block?

No, I would not like to believe that at all. Past performances are history now. I am going into the 2015 edition with a positive energy and determination.

What are your strengths and weaknesses going into the HWIO?

The new course is probably the toughest course in India now. It is a narrow course with thick roughs. Accuracy will be a key factor here. I am a straight hitter and I have a good short game as well. So I have everything going for me. Hoping for a good week this time.

Are you better prepared this year?

Yes, I am much better prepared this year. I have gained more experience now. My approach to the game has matured. I like to have fun, live in the moment and not have too many expectations. I have an improved swing. Things are falling in place.

What is the role of your coach, Anitya Chand, in your preparations?

Both of us have worked hard on my game and the preparations for the Hero Women’s Indian Open. We went to the Butch Harmon School of Golf in Dubai together, where my coach could oversee the method of training imparted to me. This enabled us to implement the same method here as well. I was also given a fitness program and nutrition plan in Dubai. I am following that to improve the core strength and nutrition intake. My coach is overseeing all these aspects as well as the technical aspects of the game.

What is your strategy for this year?

One shot at a time is what I aim to follow this year. I need to play in the moment and not think too far ahead.

Indians have come close, but not been able to prevent the HWIO trophy going overseas. What makes the difference – where do we fall short?

It would have to be experience. We need more experience of playing in events with a competitive field. Until we start playing against the top players on a regular basis, we will not to be able to cope with the pressure of playing bigger tournaments.

If you win this year, what will you do with your pay cheque?

I will build a house for my parents and myself.