The winning putt takes a toll on the mind and body, or so Ashok Kumar would have us believe as the reason why he spaces out his wins. For the second year, it’s come towards the end of the season.
“I need a year to conserve energy before winning again.” It was in jest but deep down it’s the desire to get back to where he belongs that’s fuelled the spurt in form. After 2010, a watershed year, Ashok stayed winless for five years till the CG Open late last year.
The 33-year-old was candid. “I wasn’t practising enough.” Then, the mind also played tricks. Work is on and there were glimpses at the Classic Golf and Country Club as he held nerve to prevail on the second playoff hole against Ajeetesh Sandhu.
The PGTI Masters goes down as Ashok’s 13th win on the Professional Golf Tour of India, placing him second in the all-time list behind Mukesh Kumar’s 17.
After winning four times in 2010, expectations soared only to dip. Winless and perhaps luckless as well, Ashok began to be written off, but he kept faith. “That’s golf, ups and downs will happen,” he said.
It was the big-ticket win in Mumbai last year that whetted the appetite. After many years, he ventured out in the bid to secure an Asian Tour card at the start of the year. He didn’t make it through qualifying school, and with his limited playing status in Asia too gone, Ashok hit rock bottom.
He cut down on tournaments --- this week was his fourth of the season. Head down, he worked hard on his game, and practising at a spanking new designer course with a high degree of difficulty helped his cause.
Ashok will be back at Q-school early next year in his bid to look outwards, but for now the results at home hold out hope. Three top-10s in as many months are a shot in the arm, quite like the birdie-birdie finish in regulation on Friday to force the playoff. The longer hitter of the two, Ashok had the advantage. “The confidence was up, and I got aggressive (in the playoff),” he said.