When Rahil Gangjee got himself clicked for the profile page of the Nationwide Tour, it featured him with a goatee. With time, the beard has grown, but what is striking about the rotund face is a recent addition, the droopy moustache. "I'll keep it. It seems to be working for me," said the 33-year-old with a wink.
The handlebar was in place when he zoomed up the charts of the Asian Tour's Q-School (Final Stage) in Thailand last week. Languishing at the 115th spot after the first round, Gangjee kept working his way up and shot a phenomenal 63 on the last day to finish tied second.
The urge to "push deeper" for lower scores is a trait he's picked up over the last year on the Nationwide. "It (the Tour) changes your mindset and gets you aggressive about scoring. The aim is to shoot a four-five-under everyday as otherwise you can go backwards," he said after opening up a solitary-shot lead in the Gujarat Kensville Open.A birdie on the 2nd meant the chant of "one more, one more" started in the mind and going with it, Gangjee, making the most of the open stretches on the front nine, scored rapidly.
Drawing from the putting of last week meant that the Kolkatan was reading the putts well. Four-under at the turn, saving shots on the 10th and 12th led him to surge well ahead of the field.
It was at this stage that the perils of playing on a "well designed" back nine came into play. The intent was to "follow one good round (in Thailand) with another (at the Kensville Golf and Country Club)", but Gangjee has played the game long enough to know that translating the idea is easier said than done.
"If the front nine allows you to escape with anything, the back nine makes you think," he said. The need was to strike the ball straight and plan well, and it was at the latter that he floundered.
Three dropped shots in the space of six holes ate into the cushion and had it not been for the 15th, which he managed to birdie, Gangjee would have finished Thursday at par with Shiv Kapur and two others.
Despite the late stutter, it was a job well done and though Gangjee will look to feed off it on the morrow, he did not forget to remind himself, "One must learn to do a good job and let go of it."