Gaganjeet Bhullar is not one to go with convention. Be it his build-up to the British Open or drawing from his experience on the Ailsa Course, Turnberry, and off it, the 21-year-old has his set of ideas.
Brushing aside the advice of landing at the venue a week before the July 16 tee-off, Bhullar arrived on June 30 and is patting himself on the decision.
“The course opened a week ago but the time spent in areas around Turnberry meant acclimatisation was done and I was ready for an actual feel of the turf,” Bhullar told HT on Wednesday.
But despite the familiarisation, the course threw up its share of challenges.
“Set on the coast, the cold wind coupled with fluctuating mercury levels presented a scenario we normally don't encounter in Asia. On the first four days, currents swirled in from the north.
“One was still getting used to it when the wind started to come in from the south. It's been a huge experience and toughened me for the task ahead,” he said.
“The eye set,” the week's begun on a promising note for the Kapurthala lad.
Monday's practice round in the company of Jeev Milkha Singh and Azuma Yano left him quietly confident.
Even though known for not wearing emotions on the sleeve, Bhullar couldn't help commenting on Jeev's uneasiness.
“The pain on his face after going through with the longer clubs was disconcerting.”
But does playing in his first Major and being the lone Indian in the fray (after Jeev's pullout) weigh heavy?
“What pressure?” he shot back, “it’s all in the head.” The confidence emanates from the “new vision and goal” instilled in him by a solid upbringing and, lately, by mental conditioning expert Pradeep Aggarwal who will be watching from the sidelines. The support runs deep. Apart from his parents, a bevy of relatives have descended from Europe and the United States to watch him pursue a childhood dream.
“Having watched me grow, they don’t want to miss out on the moment,” Bhullar said.
As a new kid on the block, appearing wide-eyed in the company of big names is natural, but Bhullar's response is different, even startling.
“I saw Jim Furyk at the adjoining green and Tiger Woods was a hole ahead,” he said as if sighting them was a routine affair.
“Seeking tips from them is out of the question. One, they appear to be lost in their own world and secondly, why should I? My ball-flight is in control and the hitting is better than a lot of the European and PGA Tour players here.
“We are equals competing at the same level. Who knows, this could just be my week,” he said.