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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Other Sport

Focus on putting, Mukesh and SSP look to sizzle on greens
Robin Bose, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 05, 2013
First Published: 23:46 IST(5/3/2013)
Last Updated: 01:58 IST(6/3/2013)

Placing the putter on the callused palms, SSP Chowrasia scanned the length of the club before getting down to the vagaries of putting.

The form's been looking up, some decent finishes in Europe and Asia point to that, but tentativeness on the greens is an aspect every golfer lives in fear of. Instead of holing putts, Chowrasia fixed a tee on the practice green of the Delhi Golf Club, the bright red hue ensuring that it was visible from a distance.

Moving away, the endeavour was to direct the shots as close as possible to the object, but the initial results did not please him. The putter in his hands, he remarked with a shrug, "You never know when it (the touch) will desert you."http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/3/06_03_13-metro19.jpg

The changes he made to his swing are complete, "I'm comfortable with them," he says, but that putting got the major share of his attention on Tuesday, the eve of the $300,000 SAIL-SBI Open, showed that it's an area that he would like to focus on.

Break from past
At a distance, Mukesh Kumar was at work too. After knocking balls at the driving range, he moved to the putter. A slight nudge was all it needed and out came the pain that he's lived with till recently. Erratic putting has not only dented his undisputed tag at home, it hurt his confidence, so much so that the 48-year-old now talks about striking a compromise with the self that the times gone by are as good as gone.

After the turbulence, during which the mind and actions were not in sync, he is at peace. "Earlier, I felt that I was gripping the putter too tightly, which wasn't the case. As a result, the shoulders hung loose too," said Mukesh.

Overhearing a fellow professional during a coaching lesson made him realise his mistake. The grip and the shoulders as tight as ordered by the manual, Mukesh is back in business.

A win and runner-up spot this season have left him atop the Professional Golf Tour of India's order of merit, and though he now contends with a generation that is widely travelled and possesses better skills, the belief is back and the fire flickers again.


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