The head as erect as his posture, Himmat Rai emerged from the score-recording area and headed straight to the driving range, the face expressionless.
It had been a disastrous opening, and even though he followed it up with an even-par round, the opening day's card of 79 had signalled that he would not be a part of the weekend action.
Those images are still fresh but for the 24-year-old, the baggage of the Panasonic Open was off-loaded the moment he stepped off the Delhi Golf Club on Friday. Not only has his training as a professional taught him to move on, also on the mind was a tryst, which awaited him several thousands of miles away at the Orchid Country Club.His form may have hit a trough, but setting foot in the Lion City is inspiration enough for Himmat to strive that extra mile to ensure a successful title defence at the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic. The memories of his breakthrough win on the Asian Tour are numerous but what stands out is that monstrous 25-foot birdie that he sank to pip Elmer Salvador of the Philippines.
It isn't everyday that a five-way playoff is on view, but for Himmat, it was the buildup to the playoff, which has made the sweetness linger on. Recalling that fateful day of September 11, Himmat reminisced how he was four-shots behind when play was stopped because of rain. "It (break) was decisive. I went to my room thinking what I needed to do on the last four holes. If I could finish with three or a couple of birdies, I'd have a good finish. And that's what happened," he said.
"I was expecting to be tired but I felt a new tournament began in the play-off. It was long but I controlled my emotions well."
But that was till play was in progress. A man of quiet disposition, the enormity of the occasion was such that he cut loose. No sooner was the putt holed, Himmat let out a roar, arms spread-eagled.
However, he is firm on not letting the tag weigh heavy on him. "I'm going to stick to the basics and treat this as another tournament," he said on the eve of the event.
(The writer's trip has been sponsored by the Asian Tour)