Indians in search of consistency

Indians in search of consistency

Flashback 2011 Golf

This year turned out to be a promising one for Indian golf with a clutch of youngsters realising their potential, although it lacked a watershed moment as in 2010 and begged for consistency.

Touted as one of the future stars, Gaganjeet Bhullar kick-started the season on a bright note with a polished victory in the European Challenge Tour’s (Europe’s second tier professional tour) season-opening Gujarat Kensville Challenge in January. A month later, the ever-smiling SSP Chowrasia returned to winning ways at a tournament where he made his first major statement – the Avantha Masters. Then in April, young Anirban Lahiri finally got a taste of an Asian Tour victory when he blasted his way to the top in the Panasonic Open India. Having come close to victory a few times in 2010 before capitulating in the final round, the young Bangalorean had a point to prove and he delivered it in style, prevailing in a three-way play-off.

However, after those successes in the opening quarter, the trio struggled for consistency along with the rest of the bandwagon who ply their trade on the European and Asian soil. Chowrasia’s game completely went blank as he kept missing cuts after cuts – at one stage he missed 10 in a row – but somehow, almost bizarrely, held onto to No 1 ranking in the Asian Order of Merit for a long time before signing off third.

Lahiri too found it difficult to get his rhythm going, securing just one more top-10 finish at the Queen’s Cup following a sixth place finish at the SAIL Open at home. Bhullar, who posted two more wins after the Gujarat triumph for a hat-trick of titles, flattered to deceive as the year wore on. After a mid-season lull, young Himmat Singh Rai produced a sparkling display to land the spoils in the ISPS Handa Singapore Singapore Classic, showing nerves of steel in a five-way play-off that stretched over six holes.

As encouraging as Himmat’s success was the sight of veteran Jeev Milkha Singh regaining his spark. Although he went through another trophy-less year, the 41-year-old stitched together some decent displays with two tied-fourth finishes before bringing the curtains on the year with a tied-ninth finish in the Thailand Golf Championships.

Another positive was the return to form of Jyoti Randhawa. One of the big heroes of Indian golf, Randhawa didn’t have wins in Asia or Europe but his two victories on the Indian Tour could do his confidence a world of good. Arjun Atwal, who created history in 2010 by becoming the first Indian to clinch a PGA Tour title, could register only one top-10 finish out of 29 attempts in the United States, ending the year at a lowly 123rd place on the money list.

Domestically, the biggest trendsetter was 14-year-old Aditi Ashok. The immensely talented teenager enjoyed another glorious season. In January she became the youngest winner of the Billo Sethi Trophy and a little over a month later she became the youngest participant of the Queen Sirikit Cup. In September she powered her way to a professional title before ending the year by becoming the youngest ever champion of the All India Ladies Amateur Championship.

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