Admiration for his peer had stayed intact, but the body language had altered dramatically. Jyoti Randhawa’s carriage during the season-ending BILT Open was unbecoming of the majestic persona. Form gone awry, uncertainty had left a mark on the weather beaten face. If that was not enough, the presence of the on-a-roll Jeev Milkha Singh pushed him further away from the arc lights. But the realist that he is, Jyoti had made peace with the state, preferring to wait as the gathering gushed over Jeev.
When his turn came, Jyoti, while expressing confidence in the changes he had injected into his game, was effusive in his praise for Jeev and how he had become India’s “global ambassador”.
It was a different setting on Tuesday and time had ensured that Jyoti had savoured the fruits of change. Bearing the air of a champion, he sauntered in and was immediately the cynosure of the small gathering. And lest one forgot, he did not have Jeev to contend with!
Though he took little time to let adulation flow with the words, “Jeev is an inspiration and is the one to be followed in Asian golf,” at hand was talk about his “fairly decent chance in the SAIL Open given my form in the past few weeks”.
Going with the trait he had developed en route to the Singha Thailand Open title earlier this month, Jyoti made it clear the feature was here to stay. Mixing work with pleasure in his backyard, the strapping golfer has been commuting to the Classic Golf Resort on his motorbike and shooting down clay birds at the range.
Along with the form, the shape of the course too left last year’s runner-up, pleased. “The fairways are perfect and the greens are in great shape. From the time I last played here (at the start of the century), the course has matured a lot and is much more tree-lined.”
As is normal, the role of challengers cannot be ignored. In the absence of defending champion Mark Brown, who decided to take a break after the PGA Tour’s WGC-CA Championship, Thaworn Wiratchant is expected to play the lead part.
Notwithstanding the form and the affable Thai’s talk of “being too old (at 42!), and the strength of the home pros”, the challenge posed by this much-decorated Asian Tour player can in no way be belittled.
Rid of a nagging right wrist injury and having rediscovered his craft after a considerable while with a fourth spot in the Thailand Open, S.S.P. Chowrasia was a picture of confidence. “The course is in great shape and my game’s up and going, so let’s see,” he beamed.