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Striving to putt it right before the biggie

other Updated: Feb 26, 2008 10:29 IST
Robin Bose
Robin Bose
Hindustan Times
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Treading off the beaten path seems to be a way with Damien McGrane. As part of his endeavour to “do something different”, the Irishman was all set to touch the shores of Antarctica late last year before the vagaries of nature took over and instead he set foot in Santiago, Chile, to see the “diverse flora and fauna”.

Making his way to the driving range amidst swirling winds at the DLF Golf and Country Club, the nature enthusiast appeared interested as he observed the vegetation dotting the sides of the pathway. But on approaching his destination, the stocky golfer stopped in his tracks. Whether it was the frenetic building activity on the fringes of the course or the crowd at the range that put him off was not clear, but McGrane changed course and preferred to be the lone figure at the putting range.

Towering over him, the caddy fed McGrane with a steady supply of balls and the runner-up at the Indian Masters appeared to be in no hurry as he carefully stroked them into the cups. All this while, the caddy kept an eye on the population across the pathway, and the moment a drop in numbers was observed, he signalled and the two made their way to the driving range.

Randhawa looking ahead

Putting may not have been on McGrane’s agenda initially but it was only appropriate in the light of Jyoti Randhawa’s prediction that the Johnnie Walker Classic would be a “putting competition”.

Like a professional “who wins some and loses some”, the Indian had clearly put the disappointment of the SAIL Open behind him and was firmly looking ahead.

One of the early birds at the picturesque course, Randhawa appeared satisfied with the look-in. “It promises to be exciting as the greens are fast and challenging.

“Putting will be key and one would need to be on the right side of the holes,” he said, while adjusting the cap that was disturbed by a gust. “This is almost a hurricane,” he grinned but on a serious note added, “if it (the wind) continues like this, it will be a factor”.

The $2.5 million event is slated from Thursday and light-hearted banter was in the air as contenders got a feel of the course.

The trio of Arjun Singh, Gaurav Ghei and Vivek Bhandari too decided to fall in line as they teed off from the 10th. Veteran of many a battle, Arjun came up with a perfect drive and as the ball landed in the green after avoiding the water hazard, Harmeet Kahlon’s caddy applauded from the sidelines.

“Sir, I feel you’ll do very well this time.” The weather-beaten face broke into a smile and flashing a thumbs-up sign, Arjun moved on saying, “Thanks mate, I need all of it,” even as Ghei and Bhandari exchanged grins in the distance.