Stepping out early worked in two ways for Ajeetesh Sandhu. It broadened the horizon and gave clarity of thought. Leaving the shore at 16 was to get better at golf, but reality struck after reaching David Leadbetter’s academy. Though top-notch in terms of infrastructure and guidance, the comforts of home were missing in Orlando, Florida. The chores and travel were done somewhat grudgingly initially, but looking back, the two-year stint was worth it.
The spark was never in doubt since his amateur days, and even after turning professional in 2008 he’s made a mark, although the 27-year-old would have liked the imprint to be deeper. Fourth on the Professional Golf Tour of India’s order of merit this season, there’ve been indications, with two wins among them, that time has come to look outwards again.
Two clear of the field at seven-under 65 on an incomplete opening day, the strong start to the PGTI Masters translating into another win would be welcome.
Ajeetesh will look to carry momentum from the Classic Golf and Country Club to what remains of the season, and more importantly, when he tees off a month from now for the third stage of qualifying school in Japan. If form holds and the final stage is cleared in December, he’ll have playing rights for next season.
Looking eastwards isn’t a path normally taken in our parts, but Ajeetesh can thank the ability to see matters clearly, and of course, the counsel of Jeev Milkha Singh. A multiple winner in Japan, Jeev advised his practice partner in Chandigarh to tread the path he’d taken years ago. “Jeev had nice things to say, besides I had thought it out last year,” said Ajeetesh.
Not only do the tight tree-lined fairways, dog-legs and rough suit his style of play, other benefits have also been given a hard look. “The tour’s strength can be gauged from the fact that players from there hardly venture out. The prize money is good, as are the world golf ranking points. More importantly, qualifiers to all the Majors happen here,” he said.
65: Ajeetesh Sandhu
67: Gulfam; Sujjan Singh
68: C Muniyappa; Ashok Kumar
69: Rajiv Jatiwal; Om Prakash Chouhan; Gaurav Pratap Singh; Shamim Khan; Ankur Chadha; Mukesh Kumar; Harendra Gupta.