Of late, peering at the sky with cupped hands has become a common sight at the DLF Golf & Country Club. Two days of dry weather meant the mood was one of bated anticipation on Wednesday. Despite the sharp showers towards late afternoon did shake the faith briefly, hope lingers that the DLF Masters would pass off unimpeded.
The record rainfall over the month-and-half has posed a challenge of “Himalayan proportions”, and despite the regular “three-hourly updates” on the state of readiness, fingers continue to remain crossed. The first hurdle may have been crossed as the cream of Indian golf flashed the thumbs-up sign after the practice round, but sterner tests lie ahead amid predictions of a wet weekend.
“The rains have made the greens soft and grainy but it’s amazing to find the course in the shape it is. The rough is up, so it’s going to be a challenging week,” said Gaganjeet Bhullar. Nodding vigorously was Anirban Lahiri, perched two seats away from the defending champion. Doing his best to hide the sheepish look, Lahiri had the perfect alibi for a late arrival. “I was enjoying the course and lost count of time,” was his child-like reply.
Like Bhullar, Lahiri comes to this premier event, worth Rs 1 crore, on the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI), at the back of a strong performance.
The young guns had a credible T8 finish at last week’s $400,000 (R 1.85 crore) Handa Singapore Classic on the Asian Tour. Sobering down, Lahiri, who was runner-up at the last edition here, said, “I’ve been scoring well and have had a couple of good finishes here, so it’s all about getting off to a good start.”
Jyoti Randhawa then took over with some brooding self-analysis.
The words of the two-time champion (2007, 2008) were brief like the appearance he put in. “The season’s been a mixed bag because of the things I’ve been doing, like a few swing changes. But now I’m comfortable with them. There’s nothing better than playing in your backyard and I’m looking for a boost by doing well here.”
The winner’s cheque is worth R 15.35 lakh, but the top pros will be striving for more. Up for grabs are five spots on the $6 million (R 27.6 crore) Barclays Singapore Open in November, jointly sanctioned by the Asian and European Tours.
While Lahiri, as the 2009 Order of Merit winner, is assured of a berth, the other slots will go to those who are among the top-four on October 15, the cut-off date.