Junior golfer known as ‘Little Tiger’ is on track to accomplish a lot in life thanks to his work ethic



CHRIS ATCHISON/metro toronto


At just 13-years-old, Gajan Sivabalasingham is already known as “Little Tiger.”

“I love the game. I’m willing to work hard to get to where I want to play.”

On the surface, Gajan Sivabalasingham looks and talks like any other 13-year-old.

That is until he begins outlining his lengthy junior golf resumé and details his charitable pursuits.

At that point it becomes clear that the golf phenom they call “Little Tiger” is anything but your average teenager.

Sivabalasingham, whose Gajan’s Golf Classic tournament to benefit The Hospital For Sick Children is being played today at the Mandarin Golf And Country Club in Markham, has been in the top 10 in international junior golf rankings since the age of 7.

His first international tournament win came at 10, while this year Sivabalasingham placed first in the Ontario Bantam Championship.

The teen’s father Siva kept him out of international play this year because the local competition was sound enough to allow his game to mature — and to allow him more time for his studies.

School, his parents and de facto manager’s stress, is always the main priority. Which means balancing a burgeoning golf career with his current academic one is never easy.

“Sometimes it gets a little tiring,” the links prodigy says. Sivabalasingham’s average day includes school followed by homework, a round of golf or practice time at a local range, then back for more studying to maintain his consistent A average.

Organizing efforts for this, his third bi-annual golf classic which hopes to raise $25,000 for Sick Kids, have also been occupying his time of late.

But the reason for maintaining such a rigorous schedule is still the same for the youngster who hit his first golf ball at 1 and played his first 18-hole course at 4.

“I love the game,” he says matter-of-factly. “I’m willing to work hard to get to where I want to play.”

If that stoic intent and determination sound familiar, it’s because Sivabalasingham idolizes another Tiger.

“He’s so focused,” he says of Tiger Woods. “You can see it in him when he’s playing. It’s cool to be able to zone everything out.”

One day Little Tiger aims to compete against his idol in a real tournament.

Until then, he’ll have to settle for Sivabalasingham vs. Woods on his Nintendo Wii.

“I just beat Tiger Woods 2007 the other day,” he proudly proclaims before outlining the game’s highlights and rhyming off comparisons between various gaming systems.

A million dollar swing or not, a teen’s got to have his priorities.