Calmer Abhijit Chadha mounts serious challenge on title
While Abhijit still refrains from throwing clubs when upset, like the couple of lip-outs on Saturday but for which he could have had the lead going into the final day of the Classic Golf & Country Club International Championship instead of being two shots back (15-under 201).
Reticent on the golf course, Abhijit Chadha was the opposite off it. Till the time order was restored, the 2010 Asian Games silver medallist does not remember stopping at a traffic light in Chandigarh. “In those days, the cops weren’t so strict, so I’d just make a dash after ensuring all was clear,” he said. The habit stayed till 2013, when he met Amit Bhattacharya, also Abhinav Bindra’s mental trainer.
The biggest takeaway was the calming influence. While Abhijit still refrains from throwing clubs when upset, like the couple of lip-outs on Saturday but for which he could have had the lead going into the final day of the Classic Golf & Country Club International Championship instead of being two shots back (15-under 201).
“Amit told me I couldn’t be two personalities, there had to be balance.” Wiser, Abhijit, who secured his first victory on the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) in 2012, went on to win again in 2015. More than mounting the podium, the lessons from Bhattacharya were to come handy when he lost his card on the Asian Tour card the same year. For one who claims to be “never satisfied” and is always pushing himself, it was tough. Especially, on reflecting that he had left a possible career in cricket --- claiming four wickets off as many deliveries in a senior school match still stand out --- and switched to golf.
Growing up in a joint family and being able to vent his feelings with parents and cousins after a bad round was a big outlet. “It was about golf initially but after that it would be any topic under the sun,” said Abhijit. His winless run is on, but the 28-year-old, having grown up watching father Mandeep’s struggles while setting up a construction business, persevered.
Despite coping with changes to the golf swing, Abhijit strived to get better on the PGTI. He also got his Asian Tour card back through qualifying school at the start of the year only to sit out for three months with a left shoulder injury. Experiencing pain at the season opener in Hyderabad, Abhijit pulled out. “Caused by wear and tear, the physio said I had stopped at the right time, else the damage could have been monumental.” Sessions with Bhattacharya and sharing with the family what was on the mind, Abhijit is back, but not out of the woods.
Sunday could be his best chance to put a lid on the past. Abhijit has won here as a junior, amateur and as a professional in 2015. That for him is like playing the Chandigarh Golf Club, his home course.
Leaderboard (top five)
199: Rory Hie (64, 68, 67)
200: Rashid Khan (68, 66, 66)
201: Abhijit Chadha (68, 65, 68)
202: Byung-jun Kim (69, 66, 67)
204: Aadil Bedi (67, 68, 69); Kosuke Hamamoto (69, 65, 70)