In mourning, Joshi up for title defence

Updated on Nov 12, 2019 11:17 PM IST

As he defends his title this week at the $400,000 event, Joshi spoke of being in a state not long ago where he had “lost belief”, and going with it, a mere look at the giant posters announcing his stature at the Classic Golf and Country Club would have been unsettling.

Khalin Joshi of India during the Honma Hong Kong Open.(Getty Images)
Khalin Joshi of India during the Honma Hong Kong Open.(Getty Images)
Mewat | By

Khalin Joshi’s list of firsts stretches. Last year, he won the Panasonic Open for his breakthrough win on the Asian Tour; this season he withdrew from Dhaka after Round 1 with injury and has opted out after entering his name for next week in Malaysia to take stock of a season that has been below par.

As he defends his title this week at the $400,000 event, Joshi spoke of being in a state not long ago where he had “lost belief”, and going with it, a mere look at the giant posters announcing his stature at the Classic Golf and Country Club would have been unsettling. Not anymore. “There is no pressure,” said Joshi on Monday.

Losing his paternal grandfather, Natwar Lal, in Bengaluru late September caused pain, yet left him insightful. After missing the cut at the Panasonic Championship in Japan, and the 27-year-old was planning to leave for the next event in Chinese Taipei when news came of the 84-year-old passing away in sleep. Despite assurances from father, Hitesh, that he should go ahead as planned, Joshi came back for the last rites and even contemplated not turning up in Taipei. He had gone without practice for six days and after some pep talk from the father and uncle, Rajesh, Joshi teed off and finished T19.

It was his season’s best after a series of missed cuts and the battle with a stiff neck and lower back leading to the Bangladesh event. The pain had lingered and though physiotherapy sessions gave temporary relief, the problem flared up during the second round when Joshi could not lift a club. The loss of strength has been fixed but Joshi finds himself coping with a loss he wasn’t prepared for.

“He (grandfather) was the family’s backbone and full of life despite his age,” said Joshi. One of the five children in the joint family, Joshi grew up looking forward to a joyous weekend that involved grandfather taking the kids out for groceries on Sunday afternoons. After buying essentials for the large household, it would be an early dinner followed by a film at a nearby cinema.

Among the matters Joshi discussed with his father and uncle when he was home briefly was putting his status in perspective. With the winner’s exemption on the Asian Tour set to end in December, nothing save a win or a couple of strong finishes can get Joshi into the band of 60 who will keep their card for 2020. The possible loss of status can be lived with as “if not the Asian Tour, I will play the PGTI (Professional Golf Tour of India)”. What will be tough to endure is when Joshi gets home next week. “Walking past grandfather’s room and noticing the empty bed is a void that will be hard to fill.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Robin Bose has more than two decades of experience as a sports reporter. He specialises in writing on golf.

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