Memories of the 1995 Gadgil Western Masters, Gaurav Ghei’s last Asian Tour triumph at the Delhi Golf Club, have dimmed to an extent that he can hardly draw from it. For one struggling for form, reflecting on the bygone era, especially if it happens to be a player of Ghei’s stature, becomes imperative. But the road ahead can become uphill if looking back becomes a practice.
Ghei has traversed the route too. Spending a major part of last year coping with injuries and personal loss, the stocky golfer decided to face the situation head-on. “A hairline fracture in the finger got me down but the past few months have been spent working hard and hopefully, it will pay off,” said Ghei. It did as the stocky golfer shot a 67, overall nine-under 135, to be a stroke shy of SAIL Open leader Richard Karlberg.
Overnight T6, Ghei started with an eagle but fell silent thereafter. “It was a strange round, I hit the ball really well but could not hole anything,” he said. Things turned upside down on the back nine but the result did not give Ghei a reason to complain. “The hitting was far from perfect (a factor which caused him to bogey the 13th) but I landed the ball close for the putts to roll in,” he said referring to the bonus on the 11th and consecutive birdies from 15th-17th.
Placing himself in contention was a pleasant thought but Ghei was aware of the need to keep going. “I may know how to play on this course but the key is to go out and do it, which is easier said than done,” he said.
Like Ghei, another DGC product fancies his chance but refused to look into the horizon. Steadfast on the domestic circuit, Shamim Khan’s record in the international arena is such that finding himself in contention for the second day running had the reticent player chirping, “The amazing success rate of Indians at the DGC in recent years has spurred me on.” The excitement subsided as quickly as it had gripped the thin frame. “I need to continue keeping it uncomplicated,” he said after shooting a 69 to move up a slot from the overnight T4 and settle a rung below Ghei.
On the course, it translated into driving it straight and being consistent with the putter. Off it, it was walking into the dingy bag storage room and sharing a simple meal with the surprised staff.