Ajeetesh Sandhu can afford a laugh now that he has won on a global tour, but the talk of unfulfilled promise used to hurt.
“Never thought about it much,” he declared ahead of this week’s $400,000 Panasonic Open at the Delhi Golf Club (DGC), and immersed himself in the sport he had come to love. Still, there were moments that “set him back”. The world didn’t matter; it was those near him and their unflinching belief that made him think despite the “distraction” called golf.
A self-proclaimed nerd who relies on no one but himself for all golfing needs, equipment in particular as that’s a neglected area among players, Ajeetesh was aware a similar approach was required if he had to cross the (winner’s) threshold.
Parents by the side, and “looking forward” in the darkest of times, the 29-year-old relied on some time-tested methods to justify the spark he had shown as a junior golfer.
Even after the breakthrough win on the Asian Tour in October, there is some regret a lot more could have been done had he “got comfortable with the game” earlier, but not for long.
“Every week is a fresh start and in golf we have a long career (fitness permitting) so that took the pressure off peaking early on,” said the Chandigarh player.
Then, there was confidence his time would come. Ajeetesh calls it “belief in destiny”, and after the win at the Yeangder TPC, runner-up spot at the Macao Open two weeks ago and a win on the Japanese feeder tour in between, he stands vindicated.
The stage had started to be set early last year while playing the domestic tour. And it was again a “stroke of luck”, according to Ajeetesh.
After a poor week, Ajeetesh arrived for the Golconda Masters in Hyderabad, the confidence not high. “I was always a consistent ball striker; it was putting that was letting me down.”
A conversation with 2009 Indian Open winner C Muniyappa led Ajeetesh to a putter he had used as a junior. It had gone off production long ago, but Muniyappa had it as he liked the feel.
He had one to spare, and with it Ajeetesh won wire-to-wire to end a three-year drought on the Professional Golf Tour of India.
Even if Muniyappa wants it back, Ajeetesh is in no mood to return it, and the Odyssey White Hot will be in his bag anew.
Bent and with multiple scratches, the putter’s isn’t a pretty sight, but that means little to Ajeetesh. It’s the comfort level with his craft and gear that matters as he looks to extend the current run.