It's a habit Rahil Gangjee developed since his days on the Nationwide (Web.com) Tour. No matter the mood he wakes up with, standing at the tee box evens out emotions. The stint in the US was a drain on the pocket, thinking of it still "makes him go weak in the knees", but there are no regrets. The lessons learnt are "invaluable".
Of the two seasons he spent there, it took him over a year to read the grass, but the cutthroat competition sent him searching for methods to handle emotions. It had to be done quickly, "the weight can crush you", he reminisced.
Investing his savings in pursuance of a dream where he envisioned a career eventually on the PGA Tour, Gangjee made the cut in 13 of the 24 events he played in 2011. Hope was afloat, but when the number was down to seven in 20, and the prize money less than half of the $59,645 he'd earned the previous season, the dream had slipped away.
Focusing away had led him to neglect engagements in Asia and even at home. Bereft of playing rights, it was "hitting rock bottom", as he calls it. Picking up from scratch, yes, the emotions were in check, with some help from his mind trainer, Gangjee clawed back. After reclaiming his card on the Professional Golf Tour of India, the Asian Tour was next. He nearly did not make it and had started to tell himself that he could at least play at home when four birdies on the last five holes got him his 2013 card.
Compared to the free-flowing golf at the Jaypee Greens, Gangjee had carded a three-under 69 on Thursday and a similar effort on Day II of the Avantha Masters would have had him scampering to make the cut. There wasn't anything in particular he woke up to on Friday but despite the feeling level-headed, Gangjee did forget to tell himself "where I've come from". As is the case, the throwback cut out any negativity, and by the time he teed off from the 10th, the words, "Stand up and go for it, play well," had done the rounds of the mind many times over.
Keeping the ball in play and holing more putts than Thursday, a bonus was inevitable, and the 66, nine-under 135 overall, left him three off the leaders Chapchai Nirat and Liang Wen-chong.