Since his days as a top junior, Ajeetesh has given SMS Sandhu reasons to speak about him in glowing terms. Yet, a long-standing regret remains. It was his father who introduced him to golf, but the initiation took a while. "He took to golf quite late, and as a result it was some time before he could get me into it," said Ajeetesh. Despite the angst, Sandhu Sr has been a pillar of strength. If not travelling with him, Ajeetesh makes it a point to call home. This is irrespective of how a round unfolds.
With time, Ajeetesh's skills have grown and the father now abstains from commenting on finer aspects, but nonetheless, he is there, by Ajeetesh's side or at the other end of the phone. "He does not get into technical things like swing, etc, but he hears me out and gives his take," said Ajeetesh.
Finishing on top for the second consecutive day --- the lead now at six strokes, at the DLF Masters is a novelty; and it is inevitable that the phone would ring in Chandigarh.
Ajeetesh was at the pinnacle in his age group when he was picked up by the David Leadbetter Academy in Florida. As a 16-year-old, it was a "pedigree to be proud of", but the gains are yet to translate into a maiden professional title.
When the wait starts to stifle, staying away from golf helps him analyse better, and replaying dad's words, "Look ahead; behave as if nothing has happened," is a leveller.
"He is very good at giving pep talk, it refreshes you mentally," said Ajeetesh. Going into the penultimate round with a three-stroke lead, the need was to stay firm. But the start to Saturday was otherwise.
Two-over after the 7th, the impression was that the leader's tag had shaken him up. Saving shots on the 8th and 9th helped, but making par on the 12th and 13th was what got the momentum going. Buoyed, Ajeetesh overshot the flag on the next but rallied to sink a difficult 15-footer for birdie.
The others staying overawed by the difficult pin positions at the DLF Golf & Country Club, finishing with a birdie was the boost he needed to "continue playing his game" on the morrow.