Given the whirlwind start he had had to the 2011 season — picking up four titles between January and early March, Gaganjeet Bhullar didn't imagine that within a few months he would be trying to put to use Jeev Milkha Singh's advice.
After that euphoric run, which took him to Dhaka, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Chandigarh, the form started to stutter and that was when Bhullar decided to draw from a conversation in 2006 soon after he had turned professional.
"He told me, 'when things don't go your way, give it your 200%'," said Bhullar. While Jeev swears by this mantra, having tested it several times on the golf course, Bhullar's tryst threw up mixed results. "It worked sometimes, but I often ended up trying too hard, which wasn't of help." While Bhullar stays thankful for the prolonged session and many others that followed, he decided to chart his path.
Contrary to his conduct off the course, aggression wasn't a trait he was alien to on it — the display of extreme emotions in the junior days. But as his understanding of the sport grew, Bhullar realised that gaining mastery over his feelings was imperative. He sought the services of a mental trainer to acquire emotional stability and tide over, what he calls, "birdie-bogey sequence".
When he outgrew that stage, Bhullar started to read and surf the Internet in search of relevant literature. He now approaches a psychologist when required. "You can feel it when the need arises," he says. When the yearning for a one-to-one with an expert grows, Bhullar heads to the US. Staying in touch over the phone is an option he's struck out. "Half the things are forgotten once the conversation ends," he says firmly.
A lot calmer, Bhullar feels he has found peace on the course too. It is this ability that handed him a top-10 spot (T6 in last month's SAIL-SBI Open) after a year's gap on the Asian Tour.
Striking the ball well, Bhullar had departed from his path on Day I of the Panasonic Open by trying too hard to keep the ball in play on the tight fairways of the Delhi Golf Club. The wind playing havoc, the extra strain wasn't of use as a 72 was all he could manage.
Confident that things would work if he stuck to the routine, he combined sound driving and putting to finish Friday with a 67, a stroke adrift of Siddikur.