The mental trainer at work till minutes before tee-off or even the clean-shaven look, Chiragh Kumar's descent at the Delhi Golf Club spelt out his state of readiness to step on the 18th green to lift the trophy.
After dominating the opening phase of the Hero Indian Open and finishing the penultimate day a stroke adrift of David Gleeson, the anticipation wasn't out of place. But the manner in which the 33-year-old Aussie tore away from the pack dealt a crushing blow to his hopes.
Reared in Queensland, where Bermuda grass is widely used, Gleeson put the know-how to use and read the greens better than the rest. A birdie on the 1st, eagle on the 3rd and birdie on the 5th, Gleeson, who now resides in Taipei, left few doubts on who would get to hold the cheque of $198,125.00. The story stayed that way and a three-year title drought was broken with a record tournament score of 20-under 268, two better than the one jointly held by Mike Cunning (2003), Mardan Mamat (2004) and Jyoti Randhawa (2006).
Wrong-footed by the bogey on the 3rd, picking up a shot on the next did signal a recovery, but with the hitting gone awry and the putts refusing to go in, Chiragh spent the rest of the day playing catch-up. "The birdie did give me hope but I didn't hit it close enough to challenge David," he said.
The pressure to make birdies worked on Chiragh for most of Sunday, but the final hole lifted his spirits. Engaged in a tussle for the second spot with Ross Bain and Lu Wei-chih, the birdie made him the sole owner of $135,625.00 and lifted him to 11th on the Asian Tours Order of Merit, a jump of 88 spots. All this was in addition to securing his card for the next season.
Starting well hasn't been one of Gleeson's traditional strengths, but once he finished among the top-six on Thursday, realisation dawned that he was not wrong in thinking about this tournament for several months. Apart from the ability to read the greens better, his last triumph, the 2008 Macau Open, also had a part to play. "The (course) make-up was similar," he said.