Confident Karandeep Kochhar in the thick of things
Playing on country exemption and outside the top-100 on the Asian Tour’s order of merit, this week and the next in Malaysia are crucial as he looks to break into the top-60 or at least 100 for more playing opportunities.
Not a day passes when Karandeep Kochhar doesn’t remind himself that it’s the golf course where he belongs. The success early on made it easier for the family to arrive at a consensus despite mother Reshma’s initial apprehension, but Kochhar, 20, was certain where he wanted to be at 15. There is an exception though and involves playing the Asian Tour’s qualifying school.
The way he is placed at the Panasonic Open—tied fifth and three shots off the lead after the first round got completed on Friday, Kochhar may be spared of travelling to Thailand in February after two unsuccessful attempts at getting a card. The tournament at the Classic Golf and Country Club officially reduced to 54 holes due to the hazardous air quality, Kochhar has set himself up for a strong finish provided he guards against the occasions when he “doesn’t trust himself despite playing well”. He’s getting better at staying clear and the four top-10 this season on the domestic tour is proof.
Playing on country exemption and outside the top-100 on the Asian Tour’s order of merit, this week and the next in Malaysia are crucial as he looks to break into the top-60 or at least 100 for more playing opportunities. “I have the game to win on the Asian Tour but somehow I’ve never played well at Q-school,” said Kochhar. Perhaps the numbers wore him down—250 players competing for 35 spots over five gruelling rounds.
Other than this bogey, Kochhar is thankful to be where he is, especially to mother, a teacher, who allowed the son to opt out of academics after completing school and rushing him to practice after getting back from her counsellor’s job at a school. Reshma and husband Sandeep stand vindicated as Kochhar notched his first pro win three years ago while an amateur. Kochhar is more appreciative of the win in Kolkata as he awaits his first win as a pro, and it has to do with the depth of the field he encounters every week at home or away. Last year, Kochhar shot 12-under and lost in a play-off on his home course in Chandigarh. This year, he finished third at the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational but with a score of 17-under.
Kochhar is aware of the task on hand this weekend, and the first move towards avoiding the trip to Thailand has been made by limiting damage to the bogey on the 7th. The endeavour will be to go low, and Kochhar’s efforts will be aided by the parents’ presence, who have driven down after mother finished school on Friday. Other than the likely gains on the golf course, Reshma’s presence is being looked forward to for another reason. “I am clumsy with my hair (tying the turban) and careless with clothes. With Mom around, life is simpler,” said Kochhar.
64: Itthipat Buranatanyarat
66: Danny Masrin; Terry Pilkadaris; Ye Hlet Aung
67: Karandeep Kochhar, Arjun Prasad; Shiv Kapur; M Dharma; Hung Chien-yao; Shankar Das; Kshitij Naveed Kaul; Wang Wei-lun; Vikrant Chopra; Khalin Joshi; Rashid Khan