Taking lessons from Mukesh Kumar can leave one with a clear disadvantage. Having crisscrossed the country for over 25 years while scorching the greens, the Professional Golf Tour of India’s current Order of Merit leader is the ideal mentor for a youngster aspiring to take his game to the next level. But a flipside of the tutelage is that the Mhow veteran doesn’t work on his pupil’s oratory skills.
A peculiar situation arose on Thursday when Om Prakash Chouhan was asked to elaborate on his card of five-under 67 at the DLF Golf & Country Club. With Mukesh’s earlier words, “Yeh ladka No. 1 banega,” reverberating in the ears, it seemed like an endless wait for the understudy to open up. Shifting his weight from leg to the other, he finally managed to whisper: “The driving and putting was good.” Pressed further, the Day One leader of the DLF Masters said: “My driving wasn’t up to the mark during the Global Green Bangalore Open (earlier this month). I went home and my brother gave me tips on this aspect,” he said.
Used to having the tutor watch from the sidelines, his absence (Mukesh was to tee off later in the day) appeared to affect Chouhan as he began with a bogey on the fifth. But he was quick to regain composure and had birdies on the sixth and ninth.
The wind stepping in as an ally at the back nine, Chouhan maintained a grip on proceedings and birdies on the 10th, 12th, 16th and 18th meant he ended the day a stroke ahead of Gaganjeet Bhullar.
Like Chouhan, it was a shaky start with a bogey on the fifth. But gaining strokes on holes 6th to 8th ensured Bhullar was up and going. After making the turn, things panned out in a similar manner with birdies on the 10th, 15th and 18th outweighing the blemish on the 14th. “The fairways are tricky because of the slopes but otherwise the course is playing easy, especially the par-3s, as they are protecting the tees for the Indian Open,” said Bhullar.
Though crestfallen, defending champion Jyoti Randhawa settled for a one-under and was part of a large group at joint 11th.