Soon after he had pumped the air repeatedly with a clenched fist, Chiragh Kumar was mobbed by a group that has witnessed his rise from a promising amateur to a professional of repute. Standing on the 18th green of the Delhi Golf Club, the loyalists expressed themselves in various ways, but the look on their faces was the same --- one of relief.
After the maiden title at the Players Championship (at the Golden Greens, Gurgaon) in September, there have been instances of Chiragh stumbling after being in contention, and this had begun to rankle. "Probably, it was a pile-up of expectations," was his observation. So, the many-hued display of passion and compassion on Sunday was more about the 27-year-old's ability to "keep focus on the process" during the LG Masters of PGTI, than the five-stroke victory over Sanjay Kumar and the Rs 15.85 lakh winner's cheque that came with it.
Teeing off with the thinnest of leads, a bogey on the 2nd negated the advantage, but he refused to be swayed. "I hit a few bad shots, but did not let that affect me," said Chiragh, who before the event had seven top-10 finishes this season.
"Sticking to the process" is a part of what he terms, "getting to know myself better". It seems to have worked and made the difference between moving up the order of merit and languishing at the 18th spot at the start of the week.
The newfound realization on the need to play "within his limitations" meant Chiragh did not allow creases on the forehead when the birdie on the 5th got sandwiched by dropped shots. A part of the "behavioral correction" has been to cut down on flamboyance but what unfolded on the 8th and 9th was ostentatious which Chiragh pulled off with a straight face.
"I used a six-iron for the second shot which dropped in from 105-feet. It was sheer luck," he grinned. The blemish on the 12th meant Sanjay, who shot one-over for the day, inched closer. Continuing to land the ball close to the pin, Chiragh was rewarded with birdies on the 13th and 14th, which had little bearing on the outcome but signaled that hope lay in store.