Finishing a stroke ahead of the bunch meant Sanjay Kumar was torn between two emotions. Not known to wear emotions on the sleeve, it was apparent that a part of him wanted to share the fruits of a good day in office. An outing at the Delhi Golf Club is always special for the seasoned pro from Lucknow.
Not only does the "feel-good factor" act as a driving force, memories of the triumph at the 2005 Matchplay Championship come rushing back. Even as he recounted the bogey-free round on the opening day of the LG Masters of PGTI --- put together while coping with the swirling wind that kept changing ends, a wistful look came to settle on the chubby face.
Along with the fondness, the venue has also been a source of pain, and even though he would rather not talk about them, those moments were jostling for space in the mind. On two occasions at the Hero Honda Indian Open --- in 2008 and earlier this month, the 39-year-old slipped into oblivion from a position of strength. As Wednesday unfolded and Sanjay worked his way up the leaderboard with a 66, he found himself on familiar turf. The admittance of being unable to stitch together four consistent rounds is quick to come, but whether the past will return to haunt Sanjay will be known on the morrow.
The effort to ward off uncertainty was obvious as Sanjay kept emphasizing on the bogey-free round that came about as a result of "solid putting" and "good hitting". Teeing off from the 1st, he began with a birdie and ensured the exercise of picking up shots was kept up by hitting the ball close - the longest putt for birdie was from 10 feet on the 17th. Jyoti Randhawa, one of the draws of the Rs 1 crore year-ender, withdrew early on after experiencing pain in the shoulder. The putting skills on an ascendancy meant Ashok had just one blemish (on the 9th). "The putting was much better than the CG Open (where he finished T4 last week) and the hitting was good too," said Ashok about the 67 that placed him at par with Shankar Das. The money list is his, but the hunger stays undiminished. Ashok holed some long putts for birdie - 35 feet on the 6th and 25 feet on the 11th, but the effect was brief. He made his way from the scoring area, mumbling about the dropped shot and the missed birdie opportunity on the 18th.