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Sunday, Dec 08, 2019

Amid smog, Prasad tries to put behind poor season

A quick learner, a trait he’s shown since he took to golf at eight, proof of Prasad’s growing maturity lay in the birdie on the 15th.

other-sports Updated: Nov 15, 2019 08:37 IST
Robin Bose
Robin Bose
Mewat (Haryana)
GURGAON-INDIA- Arjun Prasad of India pictured on Thursday November 14, 2019 during round one of the USD$ 400.000 Panasonic Open India at the Classic Golf and Country Club, Gurgaon, India.
GURGAON-INDIA- Arjun Prasad of India pictured on Thursday November 14, 2019 during round one of the USD$ 400.000 Panasonic Open India at the Classic Golf and Country Club, Gurgaon, India.(Paul Lakatos/Asian Tour.)
         

Arjun Prasad entered his first professional event in 2017 with the collar up. It was no mean feat that the 17-year-old had made the Asian Tour and Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) at the first go and was the youngest to secure a card in Asia that season. It was a reality check at Dhaka’s Kurmitola Golf Club as Prasad, driven by instincts from amateur days, attacked the pins without much thought and missed cut.

“The perception was if I didn’t shoot a three or four under, there was no point playing pro golf,” said Prasad on Thursday. It was an attempt to put in perspective the five-under 67, which placed him among the best Indians at T3 and three shots off the clubhouse lead after Day I of the Panasonic Open.

The first round was delayed due to poor weather conditions and only the morning group could finish. Thursday’s afternoon line-up will tee off on Friday.

A quick learner, a trait he’s shown since he took to golf at eight, proof of Prasad’s growing maturity lay in the birdie on the 15th. “The pin was tucked away to the right and it took a lot of strategy to hole it.” Putting a cap on unbridled aggression has come with doing the hard yards away from the driving range. The benefits of changing strategy—facing “real-time situations” on the golf course were there to see. Prasad put up with a prolonged delay due to poor visibility in the morning and played through the smog that enveloped the Classic Golf and Country Club.

He came away thanking the efforts of coach Jesse Grewal and the backing of the family during the phase when he doubted himself soon after turning pro.

Prasad did not make his first cut on the Asian Tour till May 2017 and took another six months to get the first paycheque from the PGTI.

For one used to winning since he was 10, coming to terms with the downside was tough. Father Nikesh, who took up golf to ensure his son never practised without a partner, and mother Nivedita—dividing time between her duty as doctor and taking the boy to practice—were a bedrock of support.

In elder sister Arshita, Prasad had an outlet after a bad day. The tendency to dwell on what went wrong often affected his prospects, and here the “long conversations on anything but golf” helped him recover .

The measures on and off the golf course appear to have worked as Prasad posted four top-10s last season on the PGTI. It has been a lacklustre season so far, but Prasad hasn’t lost heart. He is out to vindicate the faith of his loved ones.

Leading top scores: 64: Itthipat Buranatanyarat; 66: Danny Masrin; 67: Arjun Prasad, Shiv Kapur, M Dharma, Hung Chien-yao, Shankar Das.