The talent proved beyond doubt, uppermost on the agenda of Gaganjeet Bhullar is to follow Jack Nicklaus’s prescription: “Confidence is the most important single factor in this game, there is only one way to obtain and sustain it: work.” The first step entailed overcoming the barrier of winning at home and away. Five titles on the Professional Golf Tour of India this year and a triumph and few close finishes on the Asian Tour have meant the mental block is now referred to in the past tense.
Virtual non-stop action on the Tour has not only lifted his self-belief to the next level, a key lesson learnt in the last seven months, ever since he won in Panchkula, has been to focus on positives even in the face of adversity. The recent outing on the Japan Golf Tour’s Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open was catastrophic by his standards, but in his new avatar, Bhullar chose to view the card of 10-over 294 from another perspective. “The pin positions were really tough on the last two days and barring the third round (79), I could have finished among the top-10,” he said of the T51 finish.
Shouldering the bulk of expectation in the national Open would translate into added pressure but Bhullar stays unfazed. “What pressure? On the contrary, playing at home is a motivation. When you’re playing well, you’ll play well anywhere,” was the firm reply when quizzed on the absence of Jeev Milkha Singh and Jyoti Randhawa from the Indian Open. Winning the DLF Masters here two weeks ago means the young mind has a fair idea of what to expect, and come rain or shine, a plan is in place.
The crux of Arjun Atwal’s tale this year has been the battle against a serious, if not career threatening, shoulder injury and one that’s seen him make the cut just four times in whatever little action the 36-year-old has seen on the PGA Tour. Saddled with an iffy form, digging into memoirs would surely rank high on the list as Atwal strives to outdo fellow PGA Tour regular Daniel Chopra. If Atwal can execute the strategy of finding the fairways regularly, he could be patting himself by the end of this week for his last-minute decision to play here.