Proficient in squash and soccer, the playing arena was Sujjan Singh's favourite hangout when not attending English literature classes at the Punjab University. The certificates and trophies, which accumulated with time in his Chandigarh home, documented his love, but there was something that prevented him from plunging headlong into sport.
"Shelf life," he'd tell you. The vow that a staid desk job was not going to be a means of livelihood left him with few options. His skill with the squash racquet was a bailout, but Sujjan wasn't game for it. "By 28, you're career is over," he argued. He rested his case well, but at 21 taking a call to shun what the world thought he was best at, appeared illogical.
Yet, Sujjan's parents backed their son's call to take up golf. "Scratching around" during the occasional round at the Bishop Cotton School, Shimla, the young boy had alma maters like Jeev Milkha Singh and Arjun Atwal to look up to, but while acknowledging them with a nod of the head, Sujjan chose to rely on his natural abilities as a sportsman.
The faith wasn't misplaced, and he was good enough to turn professional by 2005. It was a late start but the rewards came in fairly quickly. After a maiden title on the domestic tour in 2010, last year was the most memorable. He qualified for the Asian Tour, through Q-School, and then went on to retain his card for this season. But the biggest statement came with a T5 finish at the Avantha Masters. He was well on his way and though the returns tapered off thereafter, he claimed they were learning experiences. From classical literature, its sports biographies that interest him. On another rain-truncated day at the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic, he kept focus by leafing through Rafael Nadal's journey and sleeping "like a log".
After playing 23 holes, keeping track of the birdie-bogey sequence got difficult by day's end at the Orchid Country Club, but Sujjan, the best-placed Indian, was alive to the larger picture. At four-under 136, the gap is considerable, but the 31-year-old is relying on his putter to get him close for a shot at glory.
The writer's trip has been sponsored by the Asian Tour