Given that his exploits in his first Test innings (3 against South Africa) and first ODI innings (1 against Australia) were below par, Ajay Jadeja surpassed expectations in his new innings as professional golfer with a card of one-under 69 in the PGTI Players Championship on Tuesday.
Himmat Singh Rai continued his good run by emerging leader at five-under. He was followed by a pack of four including last year’s Order of Merit topper Mukesh Kumar on 67. Jadeja was tied 12th with nine others. Unfortunately for several others who did well and understandably, all attention was on one man.
It seemed as if Jadeja’s first day in serious golf would turn out to be just as unfruitful as his first days in international cricket when his first tee shot found trouble on the right of the fairway. It earned him a penalty of one shot and resulted in a first-hole bogey.
Driving remarkably, chipping and putting effectively, he recovered with birdies on the fifth, eighth, ninth and 15th until another bogey on the 17th prevented him from returning what would have been a highly creditable tally of two-under. He used his second shot judiciously to avoid risk at times and hit it well on most occasions to reach the greens without much trouble. He should easily make the cut if he keeps it up. And provided, he recovers suffeciently after fulfilling TV commitments late in the night and teeing off 7:20 next morning.
Famous for his chirpy nature on the cricket field, Jadeja had to be a lot calmer considering the demands of his latest vocation, but he was easily the most cheerful of the lot. Speaking to his caddy in broken Bengali, Jadeja looked smarter than an average debutant, although he didn’t say it.
“There were a lot more butterflies in the stomach than I expected and I have done better than what I had thought. One-under, I would take it everyday.”