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Friday, Dec 06, 2019

Asia secured, Ajeetesh Sandhu keen on Japan

Sandhu will tee off on Thursday at the Classic Golf and Country Club with an envious record in this $400,000 event—two top-three finishes in as many years.

other-sports Updated: Nov 13, 2019 23:02 IST
Robin Bose
Robin Bose
Hindustan Times, Mewat (Haryana)
A file photo of Ajeetesh Sandhu.
A file photo of Ajeetesh Sandhu.(Getty Images)
         

Beneath the calm demeanour lies a restless mind, one that urges Ajeetesh Sandhu to push for more and get better. The highest-ranked Indian (15) on the Asian Tour’s order of merit this week of the Panasonic Open, the 31-year-old has done enough this season to ensure he can focus on getting on to bigger tours.

Sandhu will tee off on Thursday at the Classic Golf and Country Club with an envious record in this $400,000 event—two top-three finishes in as many years. A similar finish on Sunday will move him up the money ranks, but the competitor in Sandhu has had enough of finishing second best this season.

After Dhaka and Chinese Taipei, he believes “where my game is, I have played well enough to win”.

After the breakthrough in 2017 with the title in Chinese Taipei, Sandhu is on the lookout again, but acknowledges that strong finishes on the Asian Tour have “freed him up” to focus on the Japan Golf Tour. After home, that’s where his heart is, having tasted some success in 2017, when he won on the feeder tour. As it stands, Sandhu will play the final stage of Q-school on the outskirts of Tokyo in mid-December. After failing to earn his card for 2017, he is better prepared for the challenges on the golf course and the mental strain of grinding it out over six rounds in what is “do or die” as just the top 35 make it to the main tour.

Fluctuating between rain and snow at that time of the year, the conditions are a test of skill as is the way the golf courses are set up. Sandhu likes that as it “suits my game and (competing there) is a good judge of where your game is”. The only barrier is language, but with the latest crop of golfers conversant in English, Sandhu has even made friends to add to the boxes he has ticked. “One can get to places by train in a couple of hours, everything is in order, things get done quickly and the food is good.”

After the win at home in Chandigarh last month on the domestic tour, a title in Japan is what Sandhu yearns for next.

That he will have to negotiate the thick rough and try not to overpower the golf course by staying patient is a challenge he is up for. “Golf is a sport that allows you a chance to recover,” said Sandhu in the hope of being lucky second time round.